Dorm DVD players scratched


Students living in Northern’s residence halls will no longer be able to gather in groups, bags of popcorn in tow, and settle in for a night of marathon movie watching in their TV rooms.

Copyright laws bar any public viewing of copyrighted material without first purchasing a license. Since the TV rooms in the residence halls are considered public areas, it is illegal to show a movie in the rooms without a license.

These laws make it illegal for even a lone student to watch a movie in a TV room.

“[TV rooms] are kind of unique areas,” said Carl Holm, housing and residence life director. “They’re not necessarily as public as a residence hall lobby would be, but not as private as student’s room. They seem to fall in the middle of that.”

The recent rule barring movie-watching in residence hall TV rooms came about because of an e-mail sent out by Dave Bonsall, director of the Center for Student Enrichment to all student organizations, reminding them of the laws.

“The e-mail referred to the copyright law, screening a film outside of a person’s home is considered a public viewing and requires licensing. Having gotten that information, we restated it to students living in residence halls,” Holm said.

However, since many houses bought DVD players for their TV rooms with house money, the school cannot force the houses to remove the players, Holm said, adding that they are only asking that the players not be used.

“In my opinion, they just can’t be used,” he said. “I heard that some had been removed, and I asked our staff to make sure those are players are back (in the TV rooms). The issue is not the DVD players the issue is how they are used.”

Though the new rule has been in place for over a week, the school does not have any exact guidelines for Resident Advisors (RA) as far as what to do if a student is watching a DVD or video in a TV room..

“This is a lot of different shades of greygray,” Holm said.

Megan Sarder, RA of Safariy House in Spalding Hall, said that almost every single one of her residents came to her with a complaint about the new rule.

“They said it is stupid and not fair. It’s a TV room and that’s pretty much what it’s for,” she said. “[Watching movies] is a nice way to get residents together and hang out. Everyone has different tastes, but they all watch movies. Our residents use [the TV room] all the time.”

Other students expressed similar opinions about the new rule.

Phil Lang, an auto service technology major and resident of Spooner Hall, said he thinks the new rule should be removed.

“It’s one of the worst ideas I have ever heard of in the world,” he said. “[The TV room] is our living room. We watch TV, DVDs and, we socialize.”

Lang said that he and his friends used their TV room almost every night, and now they never use it, opting to watch movies in for a residence hall room instead.

Dan Byrd, undeclared ____ major and Spooner Hall resident said he also disagrees with the rule.

“Watching a movie, they’re there are maybe 5 five people, max. How is that any different than being in your home?” he said.

For now, students will have to continue watching any copyrighted material in their own rooms.

Holm said in the meantime, his department is trying to find a way to call residence hall TV rooms private spaces.

“[TV rooms] aren’t totally private, but their they’re not totally public either,” Holm said. “That’s kind of a pickle.”