New rules about copyrighted material

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Mike Gebert
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New rules about copyrighted material

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:38 pm


Because we're a very public space for discussion, NitrateVille needs to be careful about the degree to which we discuss gray market and illegal copies of copyrighted material. There are two reasons for this:

• Legally, we do not want to appear to be facilitating copyright infringement.

• Morally (and for our own sakes as viewers), we do not want to harm our allies in the classic film world who put real money and effort into making films available, and who deserve our support.

At the same time, there are lots of gray areas around the classic film world and not all of them merit official disapproval. Nor should we have to pretend they don't exist, just because studio lawyers might wish they didn't.

It's not easy to draw a precise line, but the basic principle we intend to follow is:

• If something potentially copyright-violating is out there available to the public via channels that are basically better-known than NitrateVille, it is legitimate to discuss it.

• NitrateVille cannot be used to publicize copyright-violating material, and thus facilitate copyright violations.

What does this mean in practice?

• It means you can link to YouTube, which obviously is a far better known site than NitrateVille, and say that such and such can be viewed there, a fact people could easily discover on their own. But you cannot link to an obscure torrent site and direct people how to get their hands on a high-res download.

• It means you can say that Grapevine has it for sale, and it's a decent copy. A place like that has been around for many years and is widely known in our community. But you cannot say that your brother in law will burn a copy for $10.

Basically, it comes down to, if you're talking about something that's out there in the world, openly and readily found, that's legitimate. But if you're in any way facilitating access to well-hidden stuff for other NitrateVillains, even inadvertently, that's not.

The problem with any non-zero-tolerance policy like this, of course, is that it puts the moderators in the position of having to make judgement calls on what to pull or not pull. We're willing to do that as long as two things are recognized:

• We have limited time and patience for debating whether or not we made the right call. Unless you have an outstandingly good case to make for reconsideration, just accept it in good grace and move on.

• If we find that a poster seems to want to test the boundaries repeatedly, we may be forced to take more permanent action to keep our volunteer time from being sucked up by this one issue.

This is an experiment to see if we can find a comfortable gray area within the law but not blind to reality; we reserve the right to change these policies at any time.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir