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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Oval Film - Legal?
Yesterday, as part of its open house, Oval Film was showing IRON MAN from the recently released DVD. Now unless Tishman Speyer/American Leisure received a license to show this film, its showing was illegal. Here's the lowdown on exhibiting films from DVD, as addressed by Richard Linderman on the NJ Law Blog:
How often have you seen the FBI warning screen preceding a movie and wondered, does this warning apply to me? A common issue raised by community associations is whether the association can show a motion picture or DVD at a site within the association, possibly the pool, clubhouse, or community room. The Federal Copyright Act, Title 17, U.S.C. Section 101(1) and Section 106 make it unlawful to show a film in public without the explicit permission of the film’s copyright owner. Renting or purchasing a cassette or DVD from the local video store or library gives the customer the right to view the film, but not to show it in public. The Copyright Act defines “public” in this context as “any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” According to Senate Report # 94-473, Page 60; House Report number 94-1476, Page 64, public performances of movies are illegal unless they have been authorized by license. Even “performances in ‘semi-public’ places such as clubs, lodges, factories, summer camps and schools are ‘public performances’ and subject to copyright control.” Furthermore, both for-profit corporations and non-profit organizations must secure a license to show videos, regardless of whether an admission fee is charged. Non-compliance with the Copyright Act is considered infringement and can carry steep penalties. Unlicensed exhibitions are federal crimes and can subject the association to a penalty ranging from $750.00 to over $100,000.00 per exhibition for knowingly violating the Copyright Act. Even inadvertent violators of the Copyright Act are subject to substantial civil penalties ranging from $750.00 to $30,000.00 for each illegal showing, plus other possible penalties under the Copyright Act.
Tishman Speyer/American Leisure would have to get a license from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation to exhibit DVDs in Oval Film. Does it have such a license? Will those who rent out the space for private movie parties have such a license?
And what about the exhibition of sporting events? Gasp, there may be some trouble for Oval Film here, too (and Oval Lounge). A license may likewise be needed, depending on whether the event is considered public or private, a commercial venture or not, and if it's exhibited on a monitor larger than 55 inches.
Now you may be thinking that Tishman Speyer and company would certainly dot their "i"s and cross their "t"s, but don't forget the recent pressurized wall fiasco, in which TS was caught red-handed not following city building code rules.
So stay tuned. Who knows? We may see the FBI invading Stuy Town soon!