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Every clip in Kinolab’s collection has been enriched with metadata by our own users to highlight its distinctive use of film form or content. This analytical process transforms the motion picture clips that are our source material and enables users to view them in new, unanticipated ways. This is how Kinolab educates film students and stimulates new research among film studies faculty. The project’s nonprofit, educational mission and its transformative repurposing of motion picture clips represent a fair use of copyrighted work under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.

The film clips contained in Kinolab’s collection have been extracted from the films in which they originally appeared and are then repurposed to illustrate key concepts relating to film form, especially cinematography, mise-en-scène (a category that includes actors, lighting, décor, props, and costume), editing, and sound. For instance, “Slo-Mo Hotel” is a Kinolab clip from Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film Inception that film-student curators tagged as an example of parallel editing (an editing technique that alternates between two or more strands of action in separate locations, often presented as occurring simultaneously). Kinolab invites users to study this brief excerpt from Inception in light of the formal techniques highlighted in its metadata. A user interested in learning more about parallel editing could then pursue this line of inquiry further by clicking on the parallel editing tag and viewing other clips in the collection associated with it, from D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1916), which pioneered the technique, to Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s Il divo (2008), which uses it to evoke the pervasive power of Italian politician Giulio Andreotti. While the original purpose of the films from which these clips were extracted was to entertain, the clips’ purpose in Kinolab is to educate and stimulate further discussion of the formal film techniques that they exemplify. Likewise, the audience and market for the original films and the repurposed clips are different, consisting on the one hand of filmgoers who are consumers and, on the other hand, of cinema students and scholars who want to learn about film.

Kinolab’s clips are digital-format reproductions of born-digital works. Every clip in the collection presents a distinctive example of the film forms users are studying and is therefore reproduced in its original format without modifications to aspect ratio or the original work. Clips are extracted directly from lawfully-acquired DVDs whose source information is made available online alongside each clip in Kinolab’s user interface. The project is subject to the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which amended U.S. copyright law in 1998 and originally prohibited the circumvention of technological protective measures on DVDs whether or not there was an infringement of copyright itself. Recent exemptions to the DMCA permit the circumvention of these controls by university faculty and students engaged in film studies classes or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media: precisely Kinolab’s users. DMCA exemptions also prescribe that only short portions of copyrighted works be used for purposes of criticism or comment, a rule that Kinolab respects by voluntarily limiting to 15% the portion of any whole copyrighted motion picture represented in its clips. Contrary to common assumptions, fair use does not specify a maximum allowable amount of material to be taken from a copyrighted work. Instead, that amount depends upon how much is needed to illustrate a point or stimulate discussion among one’s target audience.

Finally, Kinolab restricts access to its collection to students and faculty who are actively engaged in the study of film and controls that access with password protection. Users are informed when applying for access to the site that its materials are available for scholarly use only.