Screening the crowd:

Screening the crowd:

by Joshua BrammerStaff Writer

Simpson’s Computer Club was scheduled to have a movie night on Nov. 1, but two days before the event, members of the group were informed that they were required to buy a license to show the film.

The group was contacted by Rich Ramos, assistant dean of students, after they sent an e-mail to the student body. Ramos informed the group that if they wanted to show the film, they needed to buy a license. Senior Patrick Carlson, a member of the Computer Club, said he didn’t know about the requirement.

“I got an e-mail from Rich Ramos, who explained the situation, but it was the first time I had ever heard about it,” Carlson said.

According to the Federal Copyright Act, movies shown in public- meaning outside a normal circle of family and acquaintances- require licensure, which can be obtained in several different ways.

Ramos said the college doesn’t have a formal, written policy concerning movies shown on campus. The college uses the copyright law as a guide. Ramos also said the college has been fairly strict on the issue for the past 8-9 years.

“Years ago, we had an issue where we weren’t necessarily abiding by the copyright law,” Ramos said. “The college was approached by several movie studios that wanted to address the issue, so we’ve been pretty strict about it since then.”

Ramos also said that while the college has been more strict, it hasn’t necessarily been very vocal about the issue.

Carlson said the movie night was supposed to be a fun event to increase interest in the Computer Club, similar to the game nights held by the group earlier in the year.

Since the group doesn’t have a budget, they weren’t able to purchase the license they needed. The group watched a short film released under the Creative Commons License instead. He also said he was surprised that the college doesn’t have a formal policy.

“It surprises me that there is nothing in writing, especially since there were issues a few years ago,” Carlson said.

Ramos said licenses can be fairly expensive, which is one reason more movies aren’t shown on campus.

“For us to rent a video and show it on campus, it costs between $200 and $500 per showing,” Ramos said. “For pre-video release movies, that we can sometimes get a month or two before they are released, it would cost between $750 and $1,500 per showing. It’s very cost-prohibitive.”

The copyright law does have allowances for certain circumstances, such as showing a film for educational purposes. The law states the “performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution…” is not copyright infringement.

Ramos said that groups who show movies for educational purposes are also exempt from buying a license to show films under the copyright law, as with the Psychology Club’s movie night last week.

The club showed the movie “The Number 23” and held a discussion afterwards about the psychological implications of the movie. Junior Rhea Purvis, president of psychology club, said the movie night was the first of several the group has planned.

Purvis said if the Psychology Club had to pay for licensure for movies, she would find a way around it.

“If it came down to that, I wouldn’t pay for it,” Purvis said. “I would find a way around it to get together and watch a movie.”

Carlson said he also thinks the licensure is ridiculous.

“It’s a ploy by the movie studios to get more money,” Carlson said. “I don’t see what the problem is if 20-or-30 people get together to watch a movie.”