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Anime Club--Is It a Copyright Violation?

#1 User is offline   sentinel28a 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:37 PM

I don't see how it is, but the powers-that-be at the college I work for do.

In our world where everyone's sue-happy, my boss is worried that the anime club forming on campus, which I'm faculty advisor for, is leaving itself open to litigation. What they're worried about is copyright violation. In the copyright before every video, it states "HOME USE ONLY." So my college is worried that if we start showing One Piece, Funimation will arrive with an army of lawyers and sue the college for daring to show it.

I pointed out three flaws in this logic:

1) Since we are at a college and it declares in the club's constitution that it is being formed to "promote anime and Japanese culture," an anime club therefore falls under the Fair Use clause for educational purposes.

2) There are anime clubs everywhere. Not one has ever been shut down to my knowledge regarding copyright. Anime companies don't care; we're promoting their product. Same goes for anime conventions, who actually do charge admission (albeit with the companies' permission).

3) We are not charging admission, and at this point not even collecting dues for the club--nor are we accepting funding from the college.

I think it's a tempest in a teapot, but given that I had to explain what anime was to half the faculty, I think they're just terrified that someone's going to sue them.

Anyway, any thoughts on this? Is there a legal precedent one way or the other regarding non-profit anime clubs? Where do AMVs fit in?

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#2 User is offline   The Fujoshi 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:45 PM

Wait...what?

Reminds me of the whole 'Yugioh is considered gambling,' issue in Chicago. No really...you can't play Yugioh in public places like library or trade cards because it is and has been since I was in high school considered a forum of gambling.

Yeah I agree I think they are just paranoid because of the issues with copyrights in America. You could bring up the whole Viacom issue that was attempted on the website and the users on Youtube and how it failed among other cases.

Still that sucks totally.
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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:49 PM

I think, but I'm not totally sure, that the anime club that I used to be a part of at my local library had to receive permission for viewing rights for certain anime. I'm not positive about this, but I think I remember it being that way for some reason.
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#4 User is offline   Rukariou 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 05:03 PM

I don't see why it would be. As long as you own a copy of the DVDs and aren't watching it on Youtube. But even then, Funi and Bandai (and maybe Aniplex?) All have YT chnls, so just tell your college you'll watch them legally that way? IDK.

I think that whole home use only thing is a bunch of BS. If they rly are going to waste their time, fine. I'll invite the whole club to my basement and we'll watch them at home and idk my mom will do some cliche thing like bake cookies or make us snacks.

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 05:15 PM

I doubt any of the companies would take things to such lengths... but I do get where your boss may be coming from. Just sounds like a bad case of lawsuit paranoia.. My highschool had the same problem. Any time we aired an anime that was licensed, despite the fact that we owned them, we were required to e-mail the company in which it was licensed under and get some sort of permission... =____= It took us over half a year to air Spirited Away, if I recall.. and given, we were kids who didn't know what the heck we were doing..

It was really senseless when I look back on it, and eventually to avoid the problem all together, we just switched over to airing only things that were unlicensed.. xD Though despite how pointless I think the whole thing was, I still don't blame my school.. Or your boss for that matter, because if anything did happen, the college itself would be the one held liable, wouldn't it?.. o-o

This post has been edited by Pashy-chan: 23 February 2011 - 05:16 PM

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#6 User is offline   jsieczkar 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:14 PM

View Postsentinel28a, on 23 February 2011 - 04:37 PM, said:

I don't see how it is, but the powers-that-be at the college I work for do.In our world where everyone's sue-happy, my boss is worried that the anime club forming on campus, which I'm faculty advisor for, is leaving itself open to litigation. What they're worried about is copyright violation. In the copyright before every video, it states "HOME USE ONLY." So my college is worried that if we start showing One Piece, Funimation will arrive with an army of lawyers and sue the college for daring to show it.I pointed out three flaws in this logic:
1) Since we are at a college and it declares in the club's constitution that it is being formed to "promote anime and Japanese culture," an anime club therefore falls under the Fair Use clause for educational purposes.
In the case of an anime club it does not, the educational use clause is very narowoly defined:
1) A teacher or instructor is present
2) The showing takes place in a classroom setting with only the enrolled students attending
3) The movie is used as an essential part of the core, current curriculum being taught. (The instructor should be able to show how the use of the motion picture contributes to the overall required course study and syllabus.)
4) The movie being used is a legitimate copy, not taped from a legitimate copy or taped from TV


2) There are anime clubs everywhere. Not one has ever been shut down to my knowledge regarding copyright. Anime companies don't care; we're promoting their product. Same goes for anime conventions, who actually do charge admission (albeit with the companies' permission).
In general they don't, Funimation actually sends out promotional packages to clubs as well as basically giving out blanket licensees with some conditions. That said anime distributed by Sony or Disney can get a school in trouble.

3) We are not charging admission and at this point not even collecting dues for the club--nor are we accepting funding from the college. I think it's a tempest in a teapot, but given that I had to explain what anime was to half the faculty, I think they're just terrified that someone's going to sue them.
Whether you charge or not is irrelevant to whether you need a Public Performance License

Anyway, any thoughts on this? Is there a legal precedent one way or the other regarding non-profit anime clubs?

Where do AMVs fit in?Ben Da Mad Irishman"Bureaucratic BS"

At Purdue the University had blanket licensees with many of the groups that license music and videos so we didn't have to do any of the work ourselves. The stuff that they didn't have licensees for we just gave the info on the licensees we needed to student services and they did the work for us.

As for AMVs the short answer is that they are illegal. That said many cons have contracted various anime companies as well as Broadcast Music Inc and acquired licensees needed for the display of AMVs at that con. I have no knowledge on what MAPS does in the case of ACen.
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#7 User is offline   AshBird 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:22 PM

It's a copyright violation if the anime club profits off of their anime screenings. Any type of membership fee must cover only operational costs. Anything more is considered a violation of copyright law.

The use of illegally obtained media, even if their is no profit gained, is a violation as well. The anime shown must be legally obtained either through purchase or donations.

It's never a bad idea to try and contact the anime distributors you would want to show titles from. In some cases its been known that distributors will donate goods for promotional purposes.
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#8 User is offline   Snow_Storm 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:24 PM

I can't see having an anime club is illegal. You are not charging anyone to view the series and you're not selling anything that does not belong to you creativly. Besides, we have many anime clubs around the nation so I don't see wy having an anime club in any other city would be bad.
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#9 User is offline   keiichi969 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:35 PM

http://www.operationanime.com/

Quote

Operation Anime is a DVD request program for anime clubs to provide their members with screenings of our latest titles. Once your club application has been accepted, you may log in to your account and begin requesting DVDs for your club. All we ask for in return is survey feedback so that we can serve you better.


This is run by Funimation.

#10 User is offline   Alkaren Hyralt 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 07:04 PM

Hold anime club meetings off-campus.

Problem solved.
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#11 User is offline   Tokoz 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 07:25 PM

Anime clubs that just show anime randomly, without addressing copyright issues ARE illegal. This is because it is a violation of copyright law to show recordings intended for home use to a group. The exceptions to copyright law are extremely narrow and difficult to fit into, for anyone (not just anime clubs).

Your boss has a legitimate concern -- the rightsholders of any anime your club showed would be perfectly justified in bringing suit to stop the infringing use. Since this club is affiliated with the university, it's the uni that would have to pay for the infringement of the club -- and since the uni's pockets are deeper than any single club's, they're going to be hit for as much as possible.

It's been touched on a little bit in other posts, but the 100% LEGAL AND SAFE way to get around this is to contact the rightsholders for the program you want to show, and simply ASK PERMISSION to use their stuff in your club. Rightsholders are allowed to grant permission to use their material in ways that would otherwise be prohibited by copyright law. This takes a little more research up front when setting up a club, and requires a commitment from the club's officers to keep their permissions current with the shows being played. However, it's entirely possible to set up a legal anime club.

Actually, it seems like it'd be a bit easier now than when my friend I were running our old unis' respective clubs, since a lot of the little companies have either folded or merged into each other. Also, as mentioned earlier, most anime companies are pretty good-natured about anime clubs (their goodwill doesn't obviate the need to contact them for permission, though). Also, that funimation site, operation anime, looks pretty neat. I sure wish I had THAT, back in the day!

Just because you don't get caught doesn't mean it's legal to torrent stuff off piratebay. Same thing for anime clubs. It's one thing to take that risk by yourself, but when you're also risking a large legal target like the uni, it's something else entirely.

If your boss is balking, showing him/her the research you've done into legal showings, with the official-looking permissions you'll get, will probably go a long way towards getting him/her to change his/her mind.

At least, it worked for me.

#12 User is offline   GITS SAC Motoko 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 09:13 PM

You could hold meetings off campus, like said earlier.

But the logic behind the whole copyright thing blows my mind. Isn't there other things that a school or companies can complain about? Anime clubs are promoting their series/DVDs and if ANYTHING, so technically an anime club would be free advertising. "Home use" does not mean JUST at home--even in colleges when you watch movies or in high school/middle/elementary, you don't need to contact the movie company and ask them to use it in the school. I've never head of this ever before in my life.

Sorry to hear about that. Tell us what happens in the end.
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#13 User is offline   Tokoz 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 10:56 PM

If the entire club was unaffiliated with the university in all respects and didn't use university property or imprimatur or ANYthing, then no, the uni wouldn't have a say as to what this completely unaffiliated club did. It would still be technically illegal to show programs without permission, though. Location and affiliation don't change that.

The "free advertising" aspect is one of the reasons companies are usually nice to clubs. That niceness doesn't change the legality of the club using the company's stuff without permission.

As to school use, jsieczkar summed up the educational purposes exception very well in their post. If you mean the use-of-tv-as-a-pacifier, well, all I can say is that, again, without permission, it's illegal. Maybe they were able to get blanket licenses, like jsieczkar said Purdue has. Maybe the teachers simply don't tell anyone who would get them in trouble. I don't know enough about how copyright law interacts with primary/secondary schools to offer a more in-depth opinion on that particular aspect.

Just because no one asks, doesn't mean asking isn't required. Again, compare to torrents: downloading pirated/hacked/cracked software is illegal, but many people have done so at some point in their online experience, including myself. I have never been prosecuted for my illicit music collection, and I would hazard that not many other torrent-users have been, either. But the fact that I haven't been caught does not change the legality of my act. That some clubs don't ask and don't get caught does not change the fact that by not asking, they are violating the laws of copyright.

Unis and other big corporations are easy, easy targets for lawsuits; they tend to assume the worst and need to be as scrupulous as possible as a matter of survival. Also, to many people unfamiliar with anime, there is no difference between an easygoing anime distributor and The Mouse Who Shall Not Be Named (notorious for litigating the heck out of minor infringements). With a permission-less club, liability exists; likelihood of prosecution is almost not an issue.

If a university club is desired, and the boss is reticent to agree to its formation, then company permissions are a good possible solution.

#14 User is offline   wrexness 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:30 PM

I believe in the strictest definition that even a school anime club could potentially be sued. Even if you're a non-profit, there are some who think that if someone sees an anime for free they won't want to pay for it. At my university one of the anime club officer positions was the Industry Relations Officer. It was basically their job to contact the copyright holder and ask for written consent to show X show. I don't think we were ever rejected, nor did we have to pay either.

Though speaking of Disney, we never bothered to try and show the Studio Ghibli stuff because of the horror stories.
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#15 User is offline   Voxx 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:32 PM

Or you could have it be like a speakeasy and meet up at a disclosed location... Just a thought.
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#16 User is offline   Kaay-chan 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:35 PM

I know our club has to get viewing permission to show stuff. The exception is if it is on the internet via a legal streaming site (aka anything that's on S1NN3R's list in the Anime/ Manga forum). Most anime companies are really easy to get in touch with, though, and RightStuf's forum actually has a really good guide for how to find the information needed.

http://www.rightstuf...php/topics/815/

Hope this helps, and good luck with your club :thumbup:
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#17 User is offline   Alkaren Hyralt 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:36 PM

Just to touch on copyright infringement, and not to start a debate on it, but.

If you've ever played music for a group of people, such as putting on a cd or something at a house party you're guilty of copyright infringement.


There's something to be said about the spirit of the law vs the letter of the law, as sitting down with your friends and watching a movie you own at your house is actually infringement as well under the strictest interpretation.
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Posted 24 February 2011 - 09:52 AM

hmmm...IDK, i don't think it even comes close to being an issue.

However, I don't go to anime club any more.

I met my friend from elementary school, and she got me to go the club at rock valley college, i blame it on her cuteness. ^_^ I went to the halloween lockin, and it was fun, like a small acen.

i went to the club twice with some friends. The first time seemed to be a couples make out session, the second time was very clickish. No one spoke to us, introduced themselves, in fact they glared at us, and they all told inside jokes that made no sense to us.

Then we all left when the cosplay meeting wasn't even about cosplay. Some one had cheese, and they all freaked out. Then a girl who claims to be a suicide model (never saw her), offered to show us all her new nipple rings.

My friend who talked me into going would only come for 30 minutes, and leave. -_-

After that i was done, my friends went once or twice again, but they eventually gave up trying to join. i would go, but stayed out side playing video games while my wife did homework next to me.
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#19 User is offline   wrexness 

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 07:22 PM

View PostAlkaren Hyralt, on 23 February 2011 - 11:36 PM, said:

Just to touch on copyright infringement, and not to start a debate on it, but.

If you've ever played music for a group of people, such as putting on a cd or something at a house party you're guilty of copyright infringement.


There's something to be said about the spirit of the law vs the letter of the law, as sitting down with your friends and watching a movie you own at your house is actually infringement as well under the strictest interpretation.

Well I don't know about the movie part. Your typical FBI warning explicitly grants home use license - to my knowledge there's no limit is set on the number of times viewed or people viewing it. The house party would likely be covered under the same protection. I believe you're correct about public displays though.
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#20 User is offline   S1NN3R 

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 03:57 AM

I don't know how I missed this!

Law
Copyright laws may vary from country to country, but in the United States, the Federal Copyright Act states that a DVD or video cassette with a movie on it is for home use only. Any showings of movies outside the home are illegal under the Federal Copyright Act, unless they are properly licensed.
Licenses
Licenses can be obtained for public viewings, and these typically cost around $300 to $500. Also, a similarly priced public performance fee is necessary. Some colleges can distribute these, but if not, your local authority (e.g. your local or municipal government, city hall or state assembly) can be contacted regarding licensing and performance fees.
Penalties
The penalties for breaking the regulations defined by the Federal Copyright Act can range from a $500 to $150,000 fine, and up to five years imprisonment.


Now lets be Honest...
Most of us "normal" people don't have the money to front for PVLs. Relax, most publishers(anime only) are more than willing to release viewing rights to clubs FREE OF CHARGE. Simply contact the publishers - via links below- with needed info - setup below - and they will send you license releases. Please keep in mind it takes anywhere from 5-10 BUSINESS days(2 weeks)

OR

Online domain laws state - if the publishers upload videos or images on their own domain, and that domain is public, then those persons viewing said content at said domain, can not and shall not be prosecuted in their viewing.

In short, if its a legal view point (stream) on the web, then all viewing rights are waived. An updated list of all current stream sights can be found in the link in my Sig.


Your name and your organization’s name
Your mailing address and email
Address of the screening(s)
Title(s) of the show/movie(s)
Episode Range
The purpose of the showing
Fee charged (most likely refusal if there is)

Bandai
Funimation,Geneon & ADV
Manga - info@manga.com

This post has been edited by S1NN3R: 25 February 2011 - 03:59 AM

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#21 User is offline   sentinel28a 

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 02:52 PM

Man, you guys have been a big help. That gives us something to go on.

THANKS!


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Posted 25 February 2011 - 03:13 PM

S1NN3R you've really done your homework, that was an awesome post!

#23 User is offline   Silver Affection 

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 12:41 PM

I'm the secretary of an anime club at a college, and we have to get permission to watch stuff, and we can't watch hentai or anything stupid like that, but otherwise we're let be. Hm. I hadn't heard of any issues like this before.
“Try to save them all, bleed no more.” -Nightwish, The Poet and the Pendulum

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