More Skirmishing in the Copyright Wars

Earlier today, MIAN posted an article about the thorny issue of copyright as it affects moving-image products. It featured comments from David Peck, the president of Reelin’ In The Years Productions, which represents significant film libraries around the globe and holds the license all of the footage from The Merv Griffin Show 1965-1986.

Here are some more comments from him, prompted by a post to the AMIA-L listserv by someone who has posted to YouTube a large amount of material published by Reelin’ In The Years.

I find it amazing that you’ve stolen something from me and you have the audacity to defend yourself by trying to justify it by pretending to care what the artists think.

First of all, I have no “personal delight” in stopping people such as you from stealing my work or the work of my clients. It takes time out of my work day but much like a bank has an armed guard to protect its money I have to patrol YouTube and stop people such as you who are infringing on me and my clients’ rights.

Second, you claim that I’m causing the artists to lose revenue by removing illegally posted material. Do you see yourself as some kind of copyright Robin Hood? Just this week alone I’ve taken down hundreds of clips that you and others like you had no right to post in the first place. I’m not sure which one of the many copyright infringers I’ve had to notify YouTube about, but I think I know who you are. There’s someone who has close to 1,000 clips on “their” channel (primarily BBC-owned footage) and it was on that BBC4 Channel that I found 18 performances that were stolen from my film The Hollies: Look Through Any Window 1963-1975  – which, by the way, is a copyrighted work.

Let’s discuss the facts of my film, shall we? I directed, produced, edited, cleared the rights, and paid most of the cost of the entire production. I flew to New York and London to film Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Bobby Elliot. I entered into contracts with them as royalty participants and paid all of the publishers of the music and the film was released on DVD through Eagle Rock. Now after doing all of this and getting the artists paid, you come along and literally extract each of the full performances from my film and then turn around and tell me that I’m taking revenue from them. No, you’re the one denying them revenue.

For the record, the artists never see a penny from YouTube. The publishers or the label will claim the ad revenue. Also people like you who post the footage with no rights to do so get paid, as well, which is beyond ridiculous. So please don’t act as though your “work” is any way shape or form benefiting the artist.



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