PAL, NTSC and Legality

Right to Use PAL, Buddy!

I own a digital system converter VCR. I’ve tried to find out about the legality of converting foreign tapes to the NTSC format. I’ve talked to copyright attorneys and they say it’s probably covered under a provision in the copyright laws called "right to use," which is the same provision which allows people to tape shows off TV. Although the attorneys say they believe it would be legal to convert foreign movies to the NTSC format, none of them is willing to say so for sure. I am hoping you have an answer for me, as research by a copyright attorney specializing in foreign copyright law will cost hundreds of dollars, at least.

Rick Green

Urbana, IL

We cannot give legal advise, Rick, however, it is our understanding that transferring tapes from one format to another for personal use doesn’t, in itself, violate any copyright. It is what you do with the tape that determines whether you have violated any copyright laws (See "Shoot with Caution: Video, the Law and You" from the January 1999 issue and "Of Law & Lenses: Videomakers and the First Amendment," from December 1995 for more information about copyright). There are also a number of books regarding this nebulous aspect of videography. In the meantime, if you’re going to profit from this transfer of tape then you may be too close to copyright violation for comfort.

–The Editors

Back Issue Gold

I just discovered the April issue on my newsstand. What a godsend! I’ve just begun experimenting with video production/editing and found a ton of useful information within your pages.

You frequently refer back to articles in previous issues of Videomaker. Is it possible to order back issues or reprints of individual articles?

At the moment I’m most interested in Art Aiello’s Getting Started (Saving Family Classics: Film-to-Video Transfer) from the January 1999 issue, but I’m sure there’s a plethora of information I’ve recently missed out on.

Keep up the good work! I can hardly wait for the next issue.

Chris Aahz

San Jose, CA

There are a number of ways you can get a hold of back issues, Chris. You can call our customer service number at (800) 284-3226 or visit our Web site at to order back issues or to read articles online. Don’t forget to use the password on this issue’s table of contents page.

–The Editors

Still Linear After All these Years

I’m still finding material of interest in Videomaker after a number of years of readership, but the one area I would like to see more coverage of linear editing.

The article in the May issue comparing linear and nonlinear was helpful, but I still hunger for more.

Why linear? I’ve spoken to several small video business operators who handle weddings and related events, and many of them still operate with linear systems.

When I visited Seattle recently, I thought there certainly would be a retail store that specialized in selling computer equipment for video editing. A search, however, turned up nothing. Plenty of computers, but on the subject of video editing, the sales "experts" were pretty dumb. That’s when I decided to talk with some small business operators in the area and found them linear oriented.

Don Byers

Aldie, VA

If your average project is longer than 15 minutes, with the average clip five seconds or longer, no more than two sound tracks and few transitions and effects, linear offers real advantages. Consider also "hybrid" systems. These allow you to use nonlinear-style timelines and low-resolution clips or stills to make your editing decisions, then control your decks for automated linear editing.

–The Editors


On page 30 of our May 1999 issue, we stated that the Azden 400UDR Wireless Receiver was a dual channel receiver that started at $1999. The Gear item should have read 400UDR Portable True Diversity UHF Receiver starting at $480. The 41BT UHF Bodypack Transmitter, which can be used with the receiver, lists for $240.

On page 62 of our March 1999 issue, we inadvertently stated that the maximum resolution for Pinnacle’s miroVideo DC30plus was 720×480. It is in fact, 704×480. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.