Some people just don't get it

Some people just don’t get it, and Jack Valenti is one of them. The former head of the Motion Picture Assoc. of America, his voice is still heard in Hollywood as an advocate against movie piracy.

We all know who this is: in the early 80’s, he’s the one who predicted doom for the movie industry if the VCR was allowed to be legal – and we all know how that turned out for the movie industry – 20 years later 40% of their revenues are from DVD.

In a recent interview Mr. Valenti has many choice quotes of how he still doesn’t get it. Locking content to protect against “piracy” isn’t the answer. Embrace technology, share, and don’t get in the way of innovation and let people use their legally bought content how they want to.

I’d like to ask one question about the DMCA, and its effect on home moviemaking for personal use: Let’s say a homeowner is making an amateur video using video footage of his son playing pee-wee football. To jazz it up, he buys a copy of the movie Rudy and uses the De CSS program to strip it of its copy protection—

[Jack Valenti:]Well, then he’s committing a violation of federal law.

So if he wants to add a few seconds of crowd shots to the final version of the new home video he’s creating—

[Jack Valenti:]He should go to the company that owns the movie and get permission to do it. If you start that, where does it end? How much is a little snippet? Is it 10 seconds? Ten minutes? Thirty minutes? He might want the first 23 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, or all of Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain. Once people have the power to do a snippet, they could do a whole movie.

So you’re suggesting there is no fair use right to a few seconds?

[Jack Valenti:]There is no fair use to take something that doesn’t belong to you. That’s not fair use. If you’re a professor in a classroom, you show Singin’ in the Rain to your class. You can fast forward it, and there’s no performance fee for that. That’s fair use. Now, fair use is not in the law. People are taking fair use and changing it to unfair use and claiming that it’s fair use.

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