Copyright law hits SHSU

14 years ago Comments Off on Copyright law hits SHSU

Students living in dorms and other campus housing have been adjusting to the new policy banning the showing of movies in places other than individual rooms.

The ban is the result of new interpretations of Article 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. The article addresses public viewing of copyrighted materials and when a license is required to hold a viewing of that material.

The most recent interpretation of Article 17 states that any lobby, lounge or common area of a school’s housing facilities is to be considered a public area. The new interpretation of the copyright laws is a result of lawsuits filed by the Motion Picture Association of America against multiple universities for having public viewings of movies without proper licensing.

Residence Life put the new policy into effect this semester.

“This was not something we wanted to do,” said Joellen Tipton, director of residence life. “It was not fun telling the staff about this. They are the ones on the frontline.”

The Association of College Unions International decided on the ban in a regional seminar for various campus organizations. The seminar specifically addressed the copyright issue. The result of the seminar was the decision that banning movies in the public areas was the safest course of action with the new interpretation of Article 17.

“It’s the law, and we are obliged to follow it,” said Tipton.

Movies are not the only entertainment affected by the ban. Video games are not allowed in the public areas either under the new policy and there are new guidelines for the use of music.

Radio music and regular television is allowed in all areas because radio stations and television channels are licensed to carry their programming. Private music such as CDs or tapes can also be played in public areas as long as it is not the focus of a gathering.

For music-centered events such as dances or the Party in the Pit, the music must be provided by a licensed disc jockey.

Tipton said that movies and other events at the Lowman Student Center will not be affected by the new policy because the LSC has the proper licenses for the functions held there. She said that purchasing similar licenses for the residence housing buildings would be beyond the means of the department.

“Residence life had to make big cuts,” Tipton said, referring to the recent university budget cuts, “and we are paying bonds on two new buildings.”

Tipton said another issue facing residence life associated with the movie ban is what to do with the home theater systems in the movie rooms of some dorms. The systems, which include DVD players, televisions and VCRs are now useless due to the ban. These entertainment systems were purchased with residence life funds, and Tipton said that no plans have been made yet involving their fate.

One option being considered is to break down the entertainment systems and allow students in the dorms to check them out for personal use. Another option would be to close off the movie rooms and allow individual students or small groups of students to reserve the room. Tipton said the problem with reserving the movie room would be in determining a limit for how many students could be allowed to be in the room without violating the copyright ruling.

Tipton said no fines or punishments will be issued this semester for students violating this new policy.

“We don’t like instating fines in the middle of the semester,” Tipton said.