Evan Bregman is a 22-year-old film major at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. To the right is a still from one of Evan’s short films, “Holivocalesia.” We’d love to show it to you, but that would probably earn us a Cease and Desist letter and possibly get Evan kicked out of school.
You see, as a USC film student, Evan had to sign over ownership of everything he produces as a student to USC. Either that or choose another major. And since USC owns all student films, it bans them from the Internet with one exception: students may upload 10% of their work, provided all rights (in most cases, music) are cleared.
Why? Ostensibly its to protect students (and the university) from liability, and to allow students to use Screen Actors Guild members without paying them union rate. The school treats student films like it would treat any scientific discovery made on campus: That is, part of the school’s intellectual property.
But in the case of Evan and film students like him, the practical result is they can’t show off their films in the way any aspiring auteur typically does. “I just wanted my mum to see them and my friends but I can’t put them on YouTube,” he says. Evan doesn’t know how far the university goes to enforce this; a friend considered posting his film under an assumed identity, but then decided not to risk it.
The school’s policy has plenty of campus critics. Keep in mind, tuition at the alma mater of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas is $36,000 a year. Few if any of these films have any economic value other than the possibility they might help Evan, and others like him, get a job. Does anyone think this makes sense?
From USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Copyright Policy:
In general, intellectual property in any work produced at USC that uses substantial University resources is owned by USC and protected under a USC copyright. In the context of SCA this applies to most media, films and other audio/visual works produced in courses (“Student-Produced Works”) that use SCA funds, equipment, guild agreements or insurance. However, works produced in some advanced graduate courses, such as Production 582, are not owned by USC because such coursework does not require use of such USC resources, such as funds, equipment, guild agreements or insurance.