Friday, February 01, 2008

New Movie Policy Coming?

Someone actually posted something to the COLS discussion list this morning. It seems as of late, there has been almost no list activity. In this case, it is a bit of old business. Three historians are announcing that there will be a change in campus-wide movie policy.

The new policy will allow clubs to show movies, with certain restrictions--you can read about it below. I am glad to see that student groups will again be able to show movies on campus without having to pay big licensing fees!

Still, it seems inexplicable that the Reeve Union theater can not be used for such activities. Apparently, Petra Roter and students do not believe that any education takes place there. Isn't that why they built it in the first place?!?

For a little context, you can look at the blogposts from the spring of 2006:

Film Nazi's Invade Campus

Fair Use Debate Rages All Day

Revised Movie Policy Appears on Discussion List

Anyway, here is the letter:

Dear Colleagues:

Karl Loewenstein, Michelle Kuhl and I are happy to announce that there will soon be a new set of guidelines for screening films and documentaries on our campus.

We initially engaged the university community in a discussion on this topic, you may recall, in April 2006. That discussion was triggered by several history students’ concern over the impact new guidelines were having on student groups’ ability to screen films on campus. (In that month the Student Allocations Committee froze the funding of the International Film Series and threatened the leadership of the History Club with legal action and punitive fines if they showed historical films without purchasing public performance rights—rights obtained at approximately $300 per film.)

Over the past twenty months we have been working with Dr. Petra Roter, Reeve Director Randy Hedge and UW System Legal to forge a commonsense campus-wide film policy based on guidelines set forth in Section 110 (1) of the 1976 Copyright Act. In a conference call with an UW System attorney, we reached an agreement on the feasibility of showing films and documentaries in campus “educational spaces” devoted to instruction.

In subsequent months, we failed to convince the Reeve Advisory Council, the Oshkosh Student Association, Petra Roter and Reeve Union staff that the Reeve Union Theater qualifies as an educational space—a “similar place devoted to instruction” as outlined in the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act. Most recently they have ratified their position by citing the fact that Reeve Union is funded by student segregated fees and is therefore not technically an academic building.

The revised guidelines have been submitted to the OSA and SAC and will soon be incorporated into the Student Handbook. While several details need to be ironed out, the revised guidelines make it clear that student groups may legally show films in academic buildings without paying for public performance rights as long as the films are shown primarily for educational purposes. In order to substantiate the educational purpose, the guidelines suggest that the showing should be in an academic building and under the supervision of an instructor teaching a class related to the film.

Those of us who recall with fondness the vibrant film cultures which thrived on the campuses we once attended and who now assign films in their classrooms (and who, in the process, are continually heartened by students’ confessions that they “blown away” by films [black-and-white, foreign language and documentary] that they would never have dreamed of viewing on their own) may still be disappointed that access to the premiere venue on campus for film—the Reeve Union—is restricted. But we are glad that a set of new and revised guidelines have addressed previous misperceptions and will ultimately create an environment that will add to the educational experience of our students.


Stephen Kercher, Karl Loewenstein and Michelle Kuhl
Department of History


new oshkosh said...

How can the Phy Ed Dept. require students to use the new Student Wellness Center as part of the Active Lifestyle class when it was paid for by student fees? Roter can't have it both ways! Either buildings supported by student fees are or are not for academic purposes.

Douglas McCloud said...

The problem here is not based upon rational discourse of a legal principal rather, it is based the idea that university staff members, in this case chiefly, Randy Hedge and Petra Roter have supremacy over us little ol’ academics.

With Petra and Randy’s actions at the union, we’ve witnessed a circling of the wagons on many of his ideas no matter how ill conceived they were. There seems to be an effort from the office of the VC-SA, starting with Eliot Garb and no continued with Petra, to support Randy’s efforts at Reeve no matter how off target they were.

Remember the sporting good rental concept (we’ll rent sleeping bags and sleds to students). Next came the CD/Video store (about 10 years too late with that idea). Don’t forget the cafĂ© off of Elmwood (expensive & poor quality).

The university talks a good game about the union by largely saying “the union will be what students envision it to be” however, in practice, it falls woefully short. With this latest issue, the wagons have once again been circled to defend a policy that is wrong and to defend the actions of staff for creating said policy.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Randy Hedge does a lot to hold back what the Union could grow into. It's time for some change in that position to someone students trust and identify with. He needs to go.