TAPE TRADING FAQ |
Dark Waters version, with annotations by Jeff Frentzen dated 12/9/96
Original FAQ maintained by Philip J. Satterley
ADDITIONS :[Deleted -- Nothing of importance was here anyway]
LEGALITIES CONCERNING TAPE TRADING
I have put this here first because so many people are confused about this issue. Here are some FACTS.
The Sony/Betamax decision was decided on January 17, 1984 by the supreme court. It states: "Sale of home videotape recorded held not to constitute contributory infringement of television program copyrights. It was held that the sale of home video tape recorders to the general public did not constitute contributory infringement of copyrights on television programs since there was a significant likelihood that substantial numbers of copyright holders who license their works for broadcast on free [or cable] television would not object to having their broadcasts time-shifted by private viewers and the plaintiff copyright holders did not demonstrate time-shifting would cause any likelihood of non-minimal harm to the potential market for, or the value of, copyrighted works." (Guide to American Law, volume 3, 1983 p 46-7)
All this means is it is LEGAL to tape television programs off the air and that no legal prosecution can happen to manufacturers of video cassette recorders and blank tape as well as the "Home Use" consumer.
An article in Newsweek (January 30, 1984 p57-8) explains it: Justice Paul Stevens wrote that home taping falls within the traditional "Fair Use" Exception of copyright restrictions.
Studies, he said, demonstrated that most taping was done for "Time-Shifting" recording a program for viewing at a more convenient time. Such taping, he argued, has "no demonstrable effect upon the value of copyrighted work."
However, he drew the line at selling home made tapes. "If the Betamax were used to make copies for a commercial or profit making purpose," declared Stevens, "Such use would be presumptively unfair". This states that time-shifting is "Fair Use" only if the tapes are for personal use and not to make a profit.
The U.S. Code, TITLE 17, article 506 states: "Any person who infringes a copyright willfully and for purposes of COMMERCIAL advantage or private FINANCIAL gain shall be punished as proven in section 2319 of title 18."
This means again, a violation is made when a profit or commercial gain is made. Some copyright lawyers may consider tape trading a commercial advantage.
In a phone interview (conducted 10/31/94) with officer David Grossman, Copyright Squad of the Chicago FBI states "copying videotapes is a violation only if commercial gain is made. We are only involved with major copyright infringement cases, people manufacturing and selling thousands of tapes. We don't get involved in the mon-and-pop, one or two tapes being copied. Video trading for non-profit is not a concern of ours, it's not major enough for us to get involved."
He did also state that there was something that said that only 7 or less copies could be made in a period of 180 days, but wasn't sure if that applies to tape trading or not. This states that the FBI is not concerned with non-profit tape trading but are when thousands of copies are being made and sold. But this wouldn't necessarily prevent them from making examples to discourage others.
Well we do know non-profit tape collecting is in fact LEGAL (as stated with the Sony Decision) but there is nothing that says non-profit tape trading is illegal. Research shows that there has never been a supreme court decision concerning non-profit tape trading, and there are no specific laws against it. This may change if this type of case makes it to the Supreme Court without being thrown out beforehand. Also are the copyright holders willing to go that far? Probably not, it would cost a lot of time and money for something that doesn't affect them that much.
Many copyright lawyers would consider tape trading a copyright infringement, but this again would have to be debated in the courts (if it went that far). The FBI does have the power to make examples to discourage others, but to my knowledge this has yet to happen (I may be wrong though) Well that argument may go on forever, but at least we know some legal FACTS.
Tape trading is the practice of trading home recorded video or audio tapes of material with other collectors on a non-profit basis. Each person will record material the other person requests, and then the tapes are "Swapped." Generally, tapes are swapped tape-for-tape or on an equal time basis.
Trade lists or "lists" are listings of what items a collector has in their collection. Lists generally include title of show, episode titles time and quality rating (based on quality of the picture and audio and not overall quality of the show or performance) for television or name of band, venue, date, running time and quality for music.
Each collector "Swaps" lists, picks items from each others lists (equal time on each) and swap tapes.
Off-air recording is recording television programs directly from broadcast channels. Off-air trading is done by collectors exchanging tv schedules in different geographic areas. Each trader picks programs for the other to record that are not being played in their area.
A dub is a copy of a tape.
A generation is the number of copies away from the original signal. From the off-air tape you make a copy, and copy that copy -- you will have 3rd generation.
Time shifting is setting your VCR's timer to record a program and watching it at a later time or even making a dub of the program while cutting out commercials.
Dropout is a loss of picture signal during tape playback or record. It displays a black & white streak across the picture, making the audio and video "garbled".
Everyone has their own way of rating the picture and sound quality of video. Some people use numbers, others use the "school" method of A-F, but most people use the following guidelines:
I use a 2-5 numerical system,
This by far is NOT the only guideline everyone uses, it's only of an example using my quality rating scale that I go by.
The most common classifications are Movies, Television, Music and anime.
Movie collecting can range from the very common to the very rare. For example there are some pretty rare B-movies several collectors are looking for. Television can get a little more difficult. Many collectors collect shows that appeal to their interests (sci-fi, westerns, sitcoms) or classic shows they grew up with which can get a little more difficult.
Other collectors look for material on certain actors or actresses. Or there are people like myself who, for some unknown reason, just like to collect classic TV shows. Music video is much more specified. A collector will collect a certain artist or group much like a record collector would collect records. Music video can range from MTV "single song" videos or "Promos" as we call them, TV concerts or "Private shot" or "single camera" shows. These are concerts that are video taped using camcorders snuck into the concert venue and then videotaped. These shows are usually very shaky with bad audio quality.
Japanese animation or "Anime" is animation from Japan that has become EXTREMELY popular in recent years. The animation is very strong, and well done. Most animation is science fiction or action television shows and movies. For more information see the Japanese Animation FAQ or E-mail David Boeren at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING! The most common collectors collect movies, television shows and music video. Each category can get more specific (science fiction, westerns, comedy, drama, specific actors or music groups). In my experience I have run across people who collect some of the most interesting things such as footage of people getting pies-in-the-face, beach scenes, explosions, training films or anything on Charles Manson!
With Original Commercials. What this means is the television episode includes the original network commercials when the show originally aired. This can be really cool because many shows in the 50's and 60's included the commercial in the actual show or used actual characters from the show to present the product (a classic example of this is the Beverly Hillbillies pilot or any of the Rocky & Bullwinkle shows w/o/c)
Well the most obvious way is through the U.S. Mail (snail mail) however some choose to send UPS or even Federal Express (though very costly) It is best to both agree on a class to ship when setting up a trade. Some collectors may want a more expensive class, if so they would pay for the difference. Most of the trades I do, we both agree on first class.
As of January 1, 1994 first class shipping in the U.S. is:
First class is equivalent to Priority Mail in the U.S. In general, 6-7 tapes will cost $6.00 --JF
For now foreign postage rates remained unchanged
This cost varies quite a bit.
Simple! Check out the "Beginner's guide to tape collecting and trading." Maintained by your's truly, it can be found on the alt.video.tape-trading newsgroup on the 1st of every month.
There are many Internet newsgroups, publications and services out there that deal with video collecting and trading.
This newsgroup deals exclusively with non-profit video collecting and trading. If you are on the Internet, this is the place to go!
Posting a message is simple, just compose your subject line like:
WANTED: <the show you are looking for> or HAVE: <the show you have for trade>
In the body of the message include details of the show and what you are looking for, then respond via e-mail.
For best results always state things you have to offer in return for trade, this always wets people's appetites to do a trade if you have something they are looking for.
Other good groups to check out are:
rec.arts.tv - television shows in general
rec.arts.tv.uk - British television shows (good for collectors with PAL converters!)
rec.arts.sf.tv - science fiction television
rec.arts.animation - animated television and movies
rec.arts.anime - Japanese animation
alt.cult-movies - From Psychotronic films to Reservoir Dogs
This section was woefully out of date.
THE TV CONNECTION
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As this FAQ was written nearly two years ago, I wonder
An episode guide is a listing of the titles of episodes within a series. A guide can also list important information such as production number, guest stars, writers, directors, descriptions of the episodes and original air dates.
These help quite a but for collecting as a "Checklist" for episodes you have in your collection so you can see how many you still need. Or they are great for locating a certain episode if you know what the episode is about and not the title.
Simple. The Tardis TV archive! This is an EXCELLENT place to find episode guides to TV shows or other TV related files.
The official archive to the alt.video.tape-trading archive is here as well. It can be reached at either anonymous FTP or by WWW. The addresses are:
Yep. WGN shows many programs that other stations in different areas show locally (Montel Williams, Hard Copy, etc.) If you are outside Illinois.
Just try to look up Star Trek Deep Space Nine Sunday Nights at 8:00 and you'll see what I mean. So WGN substitutes replacement programming during certain times over their national cable feed. Unfortunately for us they have been showing some really GREAT stuff in the past such as "Captain Nice","My World and Welcome to It" and most recently "Quincy."
Fortunately for collectors outside the Illinois area, WGN can serve as an EXCELLENT source for off-air trades!!
The same can be said for most nationally broadcast cable stations. --JF
The most common tape format used now is standard VHS. Many collectors are now upgrading to Super VHS.
8mm and Hi-8 are also becoming popular format among collectors.
Beta has declined among the general public but many collectors still prefer Super Beta for the better picture quality.
3/4" tape, once the standard for television has long since disappeared from the "professional and broadcast" world. 3/4" U-matic decks can now be picked up for as little as $10 and many used tapes are sold VERY cheap or even given away. Many collectors are picking up 3/4" as an inexpensive alternative to S VHS (but not quite as good a quality as S VHS)
1" and Betacam SP "broadcast quality" formats aren't generally used by collectors, but I have run across some collectors who have items in these formats.
YES, there is quite a difference. Hi-Fi is a stereo audio signal embedded across the entire tape deeper than the video signal. Seeing it uses the whole width of the tape (apart from the small tracks mono or linear stereo uses). This allows a wider range of audio frequencies to be recorded. Hi-Fi also reduces hiss commonly found in mono or linear stereo tracks.
Another well argued question. Again, each trader has their own preference. Whatever tape you decide to use be sure it is VHS certified.
You can tell this if it has the [VHS] logo on cover (this is the same logo that's on your VCR.) That means this tape was approved by JVC (who invented VHS) some tapes just have VHS in regular letters (NOT in the proper logo font) AVOID THEM! I have decided to review the different brands I have used and the results I have experienced.
POLAROID (regular grade)
RCA (regular grade)
JVC (regular grade)
GEMINI (regular grade)
TARGET (regular grade)
A good brand to try is the BASF T-130.
NO, actually they are quite different. There are 3 different systems around the world, one is not compatible with the other and must be converted.
The first is NTSC (National Television Standards Committee). It is 525 horizontal scan lines to make a complete image every 30th of a second. This format is used in the United States, Canada and Japan. NTSC records 120 minutes per standard length tape.
The second standard is called PAL (Phase Alternate Line) It uses 625 lines at a 25th of a second. PAL is used in England, Germany, The Netherlands Spain, Italy and Australia.
There are two PAL variations, N-PAL used in Paraguay and M-PAL used in Brazil. PAL is recorded at a much slower speed so it records 180 minutes per standard length tape.
The third standard in SECAM (sequential color by memory). It also uses 625 lines at a 25th of a second. SECAM is used in France, Greece and Russia. A variation called MESECAM is used in Africa. Like PAL, SECAM records at 180 minutes per tape.
Ask that question five years ago and the answer was not practically (or at least affordably) Conversion equipment was downright unafordable for the consumer or collector and getting it converted from a studio would cost at least $75 an hour! There was also "optical transfers" where you would take a PAL VCR and monitor and focus an NTSC camcorder at the screen and shoot the video off screen. This led to very poor video quality as well as unbalanced color or even no color at all.
Lately a great deal of VCR's over in Europe have NTSC playback capability. It speeds up the tape playback to NTSC speed as well as converting the color to PAL encoding, the timebase in the TV adjusts automatically.
Now there are a variety of VCRs that convert from one system to another. Here's an overview of some of them:
What can I say, this is the best item I have EVER bought!!!! Panasonic really put some effort into coming out with a GREAT deck!!! It has a built in VCR or can be used alone as just a converter between 2 decks. You can record or play in ANY system. For example you can play a tape in PAL in the AGW-1, it will convert it to NTSC and you record it on an external NTSC deck. Or you can play an NTSC tape on your external NTSC deck and record it in the AGW-1 in PAL (converting it internally).
I have only 2 gripes about this deck. First there is no tuner, so to record off-air would require to record it on another deck and convert it (bringing it down another generation). Second there is no RF output. Even though it is a professional deck it would be nice to have. If you are into foreign video, BUY THIS DECK!! It's a bit pricey (about $2000.00) but WELL worth it in the long run!
The price has gone up, closer to $2,500.
This unit features a timer and a tuner that can take a broadcast signal and convert it to any of it's featured standards (NTSC, PAL and MESECAM) The back also features EUROPEAN "F" connectors that can make cable hookup a bit tricky. This unit has more extra features than the AGW-1 by a long shot. Featuring remote control free speed shuttle, digital picture-in-picture, digital picture freeze, strobe effects and index search just to name a few. Unfortunately this deck can only convert NTSC, PAL and MESECAM (leaving out SECAM-L and PAL-M) regular SECAM only has black and white output. Compared to the AGW-1 this deck is LESS user friendly.
The back features EUROPEAN "F" connectors that can make cable hookup a bit tricky, as well as a European power cord. (you can purchase European power adaptors from your local Radio Shack) The tuner only tunes up to channel 37 which may be a bit of a problem with U.S. cable systems. This unit can't play back Quasi-S VHS like the AGW-1 can (playing S VHS tapes with normal output).
The biggest draw back of this item is the VC-WD1 is a "Gray Market" item in this country (not meeting certain safety regulations) so it doesn't have a warranty. This is a good deck if you just can't afford the AGW-1 but can beg, borrow and steal for this one.
AIWA (need model #)
I evaluated this product in 1995.
INSTANT REPLAY 50/60 HZ DIGITAL FRAME CONVERTER
This information is inaccurate.
Go out, trade, preserve and educate!!!!!
Well I hope this FAQ has helped you learn what video trading is all about! Remember, keep the tape rolling!!!!!
Written and maintained by: Philip J. Satterley
Permission is given for this FAQ to be reproduced and circulated in it's entirety, without alteration on a non-profit basis (what have we learned here about non-profit?)
Give me a f***ing break! The original FAQ hasn't been updated in ages. I claim no authorship of the original version and my annotations are strictly for the edification of Dark Waters readers. --JF