of oil platforms, performing, and other legal oddities

Thomas: so, I know nothing about French copyright law, so take with a grain of salt. But…

Several years ago now1 Dave and I were looking at a Novell slide deck which had a copyright slide. The copyright slide said that you couldn’t copy the slide deck. (Duh.) Couldn’t modify the slide deck. (Duh.) Couldn’t… perform the slide deck. Dave and I, at this point, break down laughing, picturing someone on a stage declaiming the deck in a faux-Shakespearean voice, or perhaps as modern dance. Couldn’t for the life of us figure out why someone would be concerned about the deck being performed.

Fast forward to copyright class last spring. Turns out that copyright holders in the US have the exclusive rights to (among other things):

(4) … to perform the copyrighted work publicly;

17 USC 106

So, even though it didn’t strictly make sense when describing a slide deck, the lawyers had wanted to make sure that they kept all their rights- they didn’t want to leave out performance and suggest that ‘well, you can’t copy, but you can perform.’2

I’d bet that French copyright law has a similar clause mentioning oil platforms, perhaps because at some point petrochemical companies were violating copyrights on oil platforms outside of national waters, or something like that… and the lawyers who put together the legalese in your DVD said ‘we want to make sure we cover all the bases’ and… that thing resulted.

Now- why they don’t just say ‘All Rights Reserved’? That… I have no idea.

  1. at least three.. god, that makes me feel old []
  2. This is not Novell-specific; since Dave pointed this out, I’ve noticed the same language a lot of places. []
Posted in law

8 thoughts on “of oil platforms, performing, and other legal oddities”

  1. Disclaimer, I’m not anything like a lawyer, so with a grain of salt too :-)

    Quick and dirty explanation, in french law, the Autor’s Right is made up of two kind of rights :
    * The Moral Right
    aim at protecting the Autor : respect of it’s name, of its work.
    Can’t be given up (Inalienable)
    * The Patrimonial Rights (that would be copyright I guess)
    which is basically reproduction and representation right.

    I remenber that some group of people (I don’t remenber the names) arguing with Eben Moglen during the LSM (http://rmll.info/) about eventually needing some adaptation for french law specificty that is in use in France and nearly half of Africa.

    Don’t ask me if it made sense or not :-P

  2. IANAL and all that, the way it was explained to me by someone who was (but not specifically a copyright lawyer) was that an oil rig recreation room was deemed to be a public place. In the UK it’s in the list of places that you need a special licensce to play the DVD such as pubs, working mens clubs and the like, which requires more than the £3 you paid for the DVD in the Virgin sale.

  3. The oil platform section probably exists because of SeaLand and HavenNet (a failed attempt to create a DMCA free country on an oil platform just outside of British Territorial Waters). Nobody took it seriously but I’m sure the lawyers added it to protect against the possibility of some judgement counter to their IP rights.

  4. UK DVDs also have (or had) the oil rig restriction. It’s one of my earliest childhood memories from school VCRs.

    That, and eggs float in salt water.

  5. It’s never been clear to me what “All Rights Reserved” actually means anyhow. Googling the term is useless. What is it meant to accomplish, and is it effective?

  6. Daf: basically, it is an explicit statement that ‘all rights’ which the law gives me, which in the US includes copying, creation of derivative works, performance, etc., are ‘reserved’, i.e., that I retain them, and you can’t have them.

    At least in modern US copyright law, it is completely redundant- all rights are always assumed to be reserved until stated otherwise, and saying that you’ve reserved them does not impact their enforceability. (It may have impacted enforceability at one time, prior to 1976; I’m not sure. That might explain the ubiquity of it, despite the pointlessness of it.)

Comments are closed.