Research: Topics: Motion Picture Scripts Collection

Policy for Reproduction of Filmscripts
From Case Files of the Motion Picture Division

The New York State Archives must respect the copyright owner's statutorily-protected interest. Section 106 of the Copyright law defines exclusive rights granted to a copyright owner:

"Subject to sections 107 through 118, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following: 1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords; 2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; 3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, leases, or lending; 4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly; and 5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly."[17 USC 106]

The Archives must also respect the interest of users seeking copies of filmscripts under the "Fair Use" provisions of the Copyright Law. Section 107 of that law explains "fair use" limitations on exclusive rights:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include: 1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;2) the nature of the copyrighted work;3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."[17 USC 107]

The New York State Archives will provide copies of filmscript only upon receipt of a completed, signed request form (provided by the Archives) certifying that:

  1. The requestor is, or represents, the current copyright owner of the filmscript requested; or
  2. The requestor has permission of the current copyright owner to obtain the copy requested, and has attached a document showing proof of this permission; or
  3. The copy is requested under the "fair use" provision of the Copyright Law, and an explanation of the purpose for which the copy will be used is included.

The requested copies will be provided only after the request is reviewed and approved by the State Archivist or his or her designee. The State Archives reserves the right to deny any request for copies of filmscripts if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the request or order might involve violation of the Copyright Law. Each page of all copies furnished will include this warning:

"Copied from records in the New York State Archives. The U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the use of this copy."  [rev. 8/1996]

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