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Miramax cracking down on imports --get your HERO & SHAOLIN SOCCER while you still can

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Miramax cracking down on imports --get your HERO & SHAOLIN SOCCER while you still can

Old 12-09-03, 07:42 PM
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Miramax cracking down on imports --get your HERO & SHAOLIN SOCCER while you still can

From kungfucinema.com

Miramax Serves Us Notice!

Left under my doormat today was a curt cease and desist order by Miramax Films in regards to the unlawful sale of import versions of Zhang Yimou's Hero. As regular readers will know, Kung Fu Cinema does not sell any films. We write about them. But apparently, linking to sites that do sell imports is an accessory to crime. Not only that, it has been made clear that, in Miramax's case, any individual caught importing a film into the U.S. that is owned by Miramax could face legal action. In other words, Miramax is actively enforcing a total ban on all Asian imports that they have purchased distribution rights to. As a result, you (as an American or Canadian resident) are not allowed to have Hero or Shaolin Soccer shipped to you or carried into the U.S. and Canada.

This is, of course absurd in my mind, but I am not foolhardy enough to challenge the might of Miramax and parent company Disney. Also, I acknowledge their legal right to protect a property they have invested in. It's simply sound business. But withholding the release of films they have purchased, heavily editing them, and not making the original versions available to Americans in any form and then expecting us to idly wait and quietly accept this is equally absurd.

All Miramax is doing is encouraging less-scrupulous people to seek illegal alternatives like file swapping and bootlegs. Take for example Shaolin Soccer. I was recently interviewed by Wired.com for an article built around the fact that Shaolin Soccer was the 10th most downloaded film in illegal file swapping communities online. This is the film that Miramax bought rights to about two years ago, fumbled with, altered, changed released dates, and still sits on today. I used to say, "well at least people can order it overseas." Now, all I can say is, "what the f--k?"

While I never appreciated what Miramax has done with their Asian film properties, I always felt that at least the imports provided an obscure, yet viable alternative for consumers. But now, Miramax is trying to take it all away with their immoral monopoly on these films. And the people who appreciate them the most and are most willing to put down their hard-earned cash are being hurt the most.

I say shame on Harvey Weinstein and shame on Miramax for their culturally inept handling of Asian films and their despotic abuse of the legal system to suppress the people's right to simply see a film the way the makers' intended it to be seen.

If this bothers you as much as it does me, there is definitely something you can do about it. Sign the online petition and send your letters to Miramax and let them know what you think of their handling of these films. Keep in mind that a well-written and respectful letter will have much more impact than an offensive rant. Visit the Appeal to Disney - Web Alliance for more information.
Old 12-09-03, 08:17 PM
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Well, they can' t touch the foreign dealers.

God bless CD-Wow.
Old 12-09-03, 08:52 PM
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They do not have the right to tell you that you cannot buy imports. They can go after people who sell pirated stuff and they can go after legitimate licensees that sell in violation of their license agreements. Once an independant dealer has a legitimate release it's out of Miramax's hands. Thank goodness the Milennium Copout Act didnt give these weasels recourse on these fronts.

Oh yeah. Miramax = disney, so what can you expect from them?
Old 12-09-03, 09:03 PM
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Originally posted by DonnachaOne
Well, they can' t touch the foreign dealers.

God bless CD-Wow.

Did you read the above post?

"imports"......


now that troubles me.....
Old 12-09-03, 09:06 PM
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Originally posted by pro-bassoonist
Did you read the above post?
"imports"......
now that troubles me.....
Yes, I read it (why would I have replied if I hadn't?).

My point is that Disney can't stop the foreign dealers, even if it tries. They can stop people linking to sites, but they can't make the sites disappear. We're in no danger of our asian imports being magicked away.
Old 12-09-03, 09:58 PM
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Originally posted by DonnachaOne
Well, they can' t touch the foreign dealers.

God bless CD-Wow.

Amen to that!!!!!


By the way...I thought US distributors were the only ones banned from selling "Hero/Shaolin Soccer" on US soil.

The only way for them to stop all importers is for Customs to open and inspect every damn item that arrives on US soil.

Our Government does not have the time or money to enforce it. They're too damn busy with the War on Terror and the File Traders.

Last edited by candyrocket786; 12-09-03 at 10:03 PM.
Old 12-09-03, 10:16 PM
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Let's hope they dont impose this on the future Kill Bill Vol. 1 import DVD.
Old 12-09-03, 11:17 PM
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Originally posted by Giles
Let's hope they dont impose this on the future Kill Bill Vol. 1 import DVD.
Bah, I already have mine. The guy assured me it was legit, and the sound is 8.2/10.
Old 12-09-03, 11:33 PM
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This is the film that Miramax bought rights to about two years ago, fumbled with, altered, changed released dates, and still sits on today.
Harvey: "Sure, sure, it'll be in theaters next month! As part of a double bill with Through The Olive Trees!"

*hangs up phone*

Harvey: "BAHAHAHAHAHA!" *returns to weaving tangled webs*

Seriously, this is hardly new ground for Mirimax. I've only seen Through The Olive Trees on a DVD-R rented from a certain local cinema-first video store; prints are even harder to find. According to Rosenbaum, Mirimax performed similar burial jobs on Dead Man, the rerelease of The Young Girls of Rochefort, the Thomson-color rerelease of Jour de Fete, and some other stuff. I'm positive that those are far from the only examples.
Old 12-10-03, 12:37 AM
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I don't think there's any legal way that they can impose restrictions on someplace like DDDHouse in HK, or dictate who they can sell to. Disney/Miramax has the exclusive rights to sell those titles in the U.S. - but DDDHouse is selling them in Hong Kong, priced in HK currency. Any time you buy from an international website, you are making a purchase in a foreign country, not in the U.S.
Old 12-10-03, 12:39 AM
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Originally posted by Giles
Let's hope they dont impose this on the future Kill Bill Vol. 1 import DVD.
Doubtful, Beuna Vista Home Entertainment most likely will be distributing that film on DVD worldwide. So wherever you get your copy, Miramax will get a cut of it.

Miramax is only cracking down on the imports of Shaolin Soccer and Hero because the HK DVDs are not made by them. I haven't seen a similar crackdown on "Princess Mononoke" at all.
Old 12-10-03, 12:40 AM
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Originally posted by sicklerice
They do not have the right to tell you that you cannot buy imports. They can go after people who sell pirated stuff and they can go after legitimate licensees that sell in violation of their license agreements. Once an independant dealer has a legitimate release it's out of Miramax's hands.
Sorry, but you are 100% wrong. The United States Copyright Act has the following provision:

"Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106, actionable under section 501." - 17 USC 602(a).

There are three exceptions in 602(a) (importation by the government, a single copy purchased for private use, and a limited number of copies for non-profit religious/educational use), but none of these apply to the situation of a retailer selling imports (although they do give immunity to anyone who purchases a single copy of an import for their own use). When an entity gets an exclusive license to distribute a product, they can stand in the shoes of the original copyright holder for the purposes of infringement (and other) legal actions. For any film that Miramax holds the exclusive US distribution rights, they are "the owner of copyright under this title" for the purposes of 602(a). In order for a entity to legally import a copy of a film that Miramax owns, that entity would have to get permission from Miramax; without permission, it is copyright infringement. Miramax is well within their legal rights to be doing this, and they have been doing it for quite a while. It is also important to note that it does not matter whether the copies happened to be legit in their country of origin (see, e.g., the notes from the House report on the statute: "The second situation covered by section 602 is that where the copies or phonorecords were lawfully made but their distribution in the United States would infringe the U.S. copyright owner's exclusive rights. As already said, the mere act of importation in this situation would constitute an act of infringement and could be enjoined." Emphasis mine.).

Many companies have been successful in suing unauthorized import distributors, most notably the sale of imported music. See, e.g., BMG Music v. Perez, 952 F.2d 318 (9th Cir. 1991), where BMG was successful in enjoining a record store from the unauthorized selling of imported copies of recorded music to which BMG owned the US distribution right. Again, Miramax would likewise be successful in such an action against a company engaged in the unauthorized sales of imported copies of films to which they own the US distribution rights, even if the copies were legitimately made in their country of origin.

Thank goodness the Milennium Copout Act didnt give these weasels recourse on these fronts.
Actually, 602 has been on the books since 1976.

DJ
Old 12-10-03, 10:50 AM
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I love it when someone steps in to cut through all the bullshit.

thanks djtoell

My question is:

Doesn't this law only apply to US based companies who import to then sell to the public. A foreign based company is selling product that was produced locally. Therefore they are not the importer. Wouldn't the purchaser be the importer?

And, since there is a single copy exclusion for personal use no law has been broken.

I can only see US based companies or foreign based companies with US offices being at risk.
Old 12-10-03, 12:11 PM
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Originally posted by HyPyke
thanks djtoell


Doesn't this law only apply to US based companies who import to then sell to the public. A foreign based company is selling product that was produced locally. Therefore they are not the importer. Wouldn't the purchaser be the importer?

And, since there is a single copy exclusion for personal use no law has been broken.

I can only see US based companies or foreign based companies with US offices being at risk.
I believe that's correct. One of the basic aspects of the US Copyright Act is that it does not have extraterritorial impact; that is, it only affects actions done in the US. I think you've probably got it right that the US purchaser would be the importer in that scenario, and would therefore be subject to the private-use-single-copy exception to the law. I don't know of any court case that has tested this theory, but it's one that I would feel rather comfortable going with.

DJ
Old 12-10-03, 02:31 PM
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It's only a matter of time now before the lawsuits start rolling in...

Some Old Lady: "They said I had imported 5 copies of God of Gamblers and an uncut version of Fist of Legend, and they were suing me for $57,000,000,000.32. I don't even own a DVD player!"

Old 12-10-03, 03:52 PM
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Originally posted by DonnachaOne
Bah, I already have mine. The guy assured me it was legit, and the sound is 8.2/10.
I didnt know they had the Kill Bill V.1 import on sale yet.
Old 12-10-03, 04:46 PM
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Originally posted by DonnachaOne
Bah, I already have mine. The guy assured me it was legit, and the sound is 8.2/10.
If legit...please enlighten me with the details.
Old 12-10-03, 04:55 PM
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I didnt know they had the Kill Bill V.1 import on sale yet.
That's because they don't!
Old 12-11-03, 12:19 AM
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Originally posted by djtoell
[B]Sorry, but you are 100% wrong. The United States Copyright Act has the following provision:

"Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright .....

There are three exceptions in 602(a) (importation by the government, a single copy purchased for private use, ......


Actually, 602 has been on the books since 1976.

DJ
Like I said, they cannot do anything to us for buying imports. If we buy imports in bulk to resell of course that is another matter and was, of course, not what we were talking about.

So, basically I am NOT 100% wrong. I am 0% wrong. You, in stating that I was wrong in any degree were indeed 100% wrong!
Old 12-11-03, 01:01 AM
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To those asking about Kill Bill...
... it was a reference to the bootlegger who came into DVDTalk, pimping his "completely legit" Matrix Revolutions and Kill Bill DVDs.

paraphrasing: "The sound is 8.2/10 and the picture is 9.2/10. Kill Bill has a "property of Miramax" on the top but it's not distracting. I'll charge $60 each."
Old 12-11-03, 02:41 AM
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Originally posted by sicklerice
Like I said, they cannot do anything to us for buying imports.
No, you said:

"Once an independant dealer has a legitimate release it's out of Miramax's hands."

And this was, and is, completely wrong. It's not "out of Miramax's hands." On the contrary, it's still very much in their hands. Miramax can go after the dealer, as I described.

If we buy imports in bulk to resell of course that is another matter and was, of course, not what we were talking about.
So what, exactly, were you talking about when you discussed what happens when an "independant dealer" acquires an import copy? Isn't that discussing someone who imports, possibly in bulk, to resell? Isn't that what a "dealer" is?

And, to be sure, "we" (that is, the thread itself) was certainly discussing the law as it applies to resellers. Indeed, it's the basis of the entire thread. Miramax hasn't gone after any individual person who imported a single copy for personal use; they're only focussing on dealers and those who link to them.

So, basically I am NOT 100% wrong. I am 0% wrong. You, in stating that I was wrong in any degree were indeed 100% wrong!
Spare me, please. You're not going to make yourself look any more correct by retroactively pretending you said something you didn't.

DJ
Old 12-11-03, 07:18 AM
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sicklerice said three things:

1) Miramax cannot stop personal importing. (true)
2) Mirmax can stop ligitmate licensees that violate their license. (true)
3) Miramax cannot stop an indpendant dealer. (false)

So, technically speaking, he was 33% wrong.
Old 12-11-03, 03:33 PM
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well it seems like ebay canceled a few auctions for the Hero box set, I was looking into buying.
Old 12-11-03, 06:55 PM
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Ivory is 99.44% pure.

PROVE ME WRONG!
Old 12-12-03, 09:47 AM
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2 things out of DJ's copyright quotes:

Second paragraph, an individual is allowed to purchase and import their own copy. That means we consumers are all fine, just American companies can't do import of such titles.

Next, I would say that a copyrighted work that is altered by Miramax is not what HK is selling (Shaolin Soccer, for instance). If they alter it and put it under a different name a good lawyer could make a case that the original HK version is a DIFFERENT film and therefore not covered by Miramax's copyright. Although this depends on how their copyright is worded, anybody know how to find a copy? What was it that Miramax wanted to call this film? They were going to change the name from Shaolin Soccer to something totally different.

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