Flori-duh Hall Monitors Flunk Copyright Law

Copyright Stupidity from America's Wang

Copyright Stupidity from America's Wang

It appears that the University of Tampa needs to educate its hall monitors on the law a little better. RAs at UT have been trying to tell the students that they can’t watch the Superbowl in a room with more than 3.4 people. Yes, really.

During recent floor meetings, some RAs have been telling their residents that they will not allow more than 3.4 people in a room watching the Super Bowl.

Krystal Schofield, Director of Residence Life, says the topic of copyright law first came up in RA training. RAs were being further educated on copyright laws and how it applied to their jobs, not specifically for the Super Bowl.

“Some RAs were looking for hard facts on how many people could view an event in a room and it still be considered a private showing,” she said. (source)

If I were “Director of Residence Life,” and an RA asked me how many people they could allow to watch TV together in a dorm room, I’d say “don’t you have something better to do than worry about how many college kids are watching television together?”

According to John Stepro, director of media services, the number 3.4, is the estimated number of people per household in the U.S. and it is considered to be the threshold for what is a private showing and what is a public performance.

And which law school did Mr. Stepro attend? Rule #1 of talking to the media, if you have no idea, then say “I have no idea.” Don’t try and fake it, because some smart ass lawyer will be out there waiting to make fun of you.

Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate at the Student Press Law Center said he had never heard of the 3.4 person rule.

“If you want to throw a party and invite a thousand of your closest friends, which I’m sure is happening this weekend across the Hamptons, there is no legal obstacle,” he said.

He also said that viewing parties for the Super Bowl are legal as long as they don’t charge or constitute a public performance in which people can come and go, such as showing the game in the Vaughn Courtyard.

Oh, I’m sorry Mr. Goldstein, the credited response is “If an RA asks this question, they must be involuntarily sterilized for being such a petty little twit.

Nevertheless, Mr. Goldstein still gets full credit. There is a reason that Goldstein never heard of the “3.4 person rule.” Because IT DOESN’T EXIST — and if it did, what are you going to do, watch TV with two close friends and a quadruple amputee?

Listen up, University of Tampa students: Your RA’s three classes in “victim studies” don’t qualify them to quote the law to you.

You can find the correct answer in sections 101 and 106 of the Copyright Act. It is true that you can’t “publicly” display a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner. Section 106 of the Act provides that you can’t “perform” a copyrighted work publicly without the consent of the copyright owner. That does include putting a movie or a broadcast on a television screen. However, the definition of “perform” requires a little more thought, so lets look at Section 101.

To perform or display a work “publicly” means—
(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; (source)

If you only have 3.4 family members and social acquaintances, then I suppose the hall monitors are right. If you are a normal human being, they are wrong.

If you are a University of Tampa student, print out this post and put it in the face of any hall monitor who tries to quote this 3.4 person rule to you. Oh, but I provide this to you on one condition — that you agree to spend the rest of the year tormenting the living hell out of any RA who is so petty and small that they have nothing better to do than worry about whether you are watching the Superbowl with more than 3.4 family members and friends.

4 Responses to Flori-duh Hall Monitors Flunk Copyright Law

  1. Oh, man… My alma mater is on a roll this week… First, I find out that UT is also the previous educator of a certain Illinois ex-governor, who’s currently treading water in the deep end of a proverbial pool of shit, and now this?! Ugh, yeah, so… Go Spartans?!

  2. DT says:

    As noted by the good folks over at Techdirt, it’s easy to mock the clueless RAs (and the equally clueless Director of Media Services there), but the real issue is that copyright has become so convoluted that some would look at such an obviously ridiculous “rule” of a public performance being no more than 3.4 people as acceptable and reasonable.

  3. […] Marc Randazza has fun with Florida college students who think that it’s illegal for more than 3.4 students to watch the Super Bowl together. […]

  4. DT, you have a point. And, it is fair to imagine that the RAs might not completely understand copyright law. I don’t necessarily have an issue with their stupid interpretation of the law — I have an issue with them even having an issue with how students would watch the Superbowl.

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