public domain

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by jimmyjet, Jul 6, 2014.

  1. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    in regards to make room for daddy, i did some research on the term.

    there seems to be quite a few various definitions.

    and some things can be public domain in one country but have copyright protection of some sort in another country.

    speaking about the usa, and in the context of video - if something is in public domain, is it ever possible for it to be bought, or somehow have copyright protection ?

    also, lets assume that seasons 1-3 are in public domain - can a remastered hd-quality print of the show have some sort of copyright protection ?
     
  2. Gary16

    Gary16 Supporting Actor

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    Well the movie "it's a wonderful life" was brought out of pd and back to copyright protection.
     
  3. DeWilson

    DeWilson Cinematographer

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    Yes, in some countries a work can fall into public domain while not in others - the old 50 years for music recordings in the U.K. for instance has been a headache for U.S. Companies for years.

    As mentioned below, except in rare cases an american originated work "as is" can not be taken from the public domain, but can be protected if any of the other elements are protected and are enforced. There needs to be more done to a public domain print than just a new HD transfer to get protection. Add/Taken/Change the work, you get protection ONLY on that version you created. I can not copy the added/taken/changed version someone else did, but I could create my own. So an edited version of a show, since it changes the work, can get protection - but ONLY that version. I can create my own as long as it doesn't infringe of someone else version. The Colorized film situation is like this when you had a handful of outfits colorizing PD Films. There's a good half a dozen colorized versions of "The Three Stooges" PD shorts all looking different!There's no "assuming" MRFD Seasons 1-3 are public domain - they are - the copyright renewals were filed AFTER the 29 year window and they lapsed - for some reason LOC didn't catch it. I believe Neil was the first to discover it.
    "It's A Wonderful Life" was brought under protection via the rights to the original story it was based on, as well as the music, The "Derivative Work" situation. (Green Hornet, inc has used that same argument regarding the public domain status of chapters from both 1940 movie serials.) But the film itself while having protection did not lose it's public domain status to the elements not protected by those other rights. One could hypothetically replace the music, rearrange the footage, and create a new work that doesn't infringe on the protected elements - but no one has tried or mounted a challenge :)
     
  4. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    oh, well that is okay - at least in the mrfd situation.

    if some company does a good hd transfer, that hd transfer is protected, in the sense that some other company would need to do the whole transfer process over again ?

    i dont see that happening.

    if one company takes the time and effort to transfer all the seasons, and sell it as one complete set - i dont see some other company trying the same thing. it isnt that popular.

    i am more concerned about the original film becoming damaged before any transfer is done.
     
  5. DeWilson

    DeWilson Cinematographer

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    Well, if a work is public domain, anyone can make transfers from whatever elements they have access to. Your question really depends on the second party wanting to do something with a show and the first party being willing to sell their HD transfers for the second party. But why would they? They paid for the work, the released and exploited it, why would they want to unless they felt they had gotten all they could out of them.The studios have master elements to shows that have fallen into the public domain and they have been reluctant to do anything with those shows because they know anyone can come along and copy them. This is why CBS Never released the first season of "The Beverly Hillbillies", because the fact the market was flooded with DVD releases transferred from old 16mm syndication prints. Depending on the series, the elements are safe and sound even if they are not doing anything with them. There's been no reports of the first 3 seasons of MRFD having been discarded or damaged,etc. But it's unlikely we'll see any of those except for the shows from 16mm prints going around. Even the haphazard way they were stored, the OZZIE & HARRIET shows are apparently fine,and Universal still holds The B&W DRAGNET Show master elements.
     
  6. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    david has made some comments about the quality of the original film, so i am not as sure that we dont have some physical damage.

    what it is, i dont know ?

    i can see that a good dvd print from the original 35mm film is good enough to keep an hd transfer from being done, in many cases.

    but i am not concerned about 16 mm prints and old tv quality stuff preventing a dvd or hd release of any show.

    so the fact that the first 3 seasons are in pd does not hinder us from a good quality release.

    but if there really is silly egos fighting from the grave, that may indeed pose a problem for a good long while. that is petty beyond belief.

    i am not buying anything until and unless they release a FULL SERIES.
     
  7. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    gosh, that should have read sam, not david. i was referring to ozzie and harriet.
     
  8. smithbrad

    smithbrad Screenwriter

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    I'm reminded of the Robin Hood release by Mill Creek. The first season looks in pretty bad shape. Later a UK company released the whole series from excellent prints. After that Mill Creek released season 2 and up with what looks like the same quality as the UK release. I don't know for sure.

    When dealing with PD and releases across countries it just seems like everything is fair game sometimes. If the early seasons of MRFD did get a costly makeover, it wouldn't surprise me if they showed up at some point in some other release dirt cheap. If I understood DeWilson to protect those new prints they would have to alter the show in some way, not just scan the negatives. Not something the originating family would probably want to do.
     
  9. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    hi brad,

    i can see the possibility of someone trying to put out a cheap quality at a cheap price.

    and they may sell some.

    but i dont think they would be selling to the same people who would purchase the good quality release.

    gosh, i cant really watch the old tv quality stuff. man, the faces are so blurry.

    when that is all you know, it looks great. i can hardly believe what i was so satisfied with, when i was a kid !!!!

    my eyes see dvd quality as pretty darn good. okay, blu-ray is better, but i dont think leaps and bounds better.

    however, dvd is leaps and bounds better than old tv quality. at least for me.
     
  10. DeWilson

    DeWilson Cinematographer

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    The 16mm prints are out there for the first 3 seasons, I've had 16mm prints come my way from the first two - they had the syndicated opening credits - not sure where they might have aired - overseas,etc. - so they are out there. Several with original commercials are going around, Just a matter of someone doing something with them and finding prints.
     
  11. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    i dont think i would be satisfied with 16mm prints ??

    especially when i know that the 35mm prints still exist, apparently undamaged.
     
  12. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    if we talk about colorization, that has copyright protection.

    how did that come about ? did someone apply for copyright after they had done the work ? or does one obtain a copyright before the work is done or completed ?

    at some point, colorization was given copyright protection.

    in the url that i posted in mrfd, there was at least 15 or so pd films that had been restored to hd quality.

    surely, the people doing the work would have preferred to have it protected.

    i am trying to understand what happened. did they restore the film, and then were denied a request for copyright ?

    like i said in the other thread, the whole purpose of copyright is not to make one person profitable, but to benefit society.

    we give individuals protection so they have incentive to produce a product that can benefit the public.

    there is from what i am told, a lot of expense to restore a 35mm film to hd quality.

    most people i talk to, dont seem to like films that have been colorized ?

    but the restoration of this video makes a huge difference to the end product. we need to encourage people to do this, by allowing them to copyright that version, just like people who are colorizing films.
     
  13. cinerama10

    cinerama10 Second Unit

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    Copyright differs from country to country. Some even do not respect copyright- China for example. A documentary film can only be copyrighted in Australia for 50 years before it goes into the public domain.This is regardless of which country the film emanated from .Often the original copyright owner/s fail to renew the copyright or don't care.The U.S.A. copyright office has on numerous occasions, allowed someone to renew a film's copyright without even checking that the person is the legal owner of the copyright. This is an amazing but true fact. There are in Australia for example, double standards when it comes to protecting someone's copyright of a film. If it concerns a film from a major USA company then the authorities will clamp down but if the film emanates form Asia then nothing is done. This is why we have in Sydney, hundreds of Asian dvd shops that specialise in pirated films.. Almost every suburb has at least one such shop. There are five in the suburb where I live and dozens in the city.. If you report them to the authorities ,they don't care. Respecting one's copyright is just a farce in Australia. Sometimes even the USA studios don't care if a film of theirs is pirated and sold publicly. RAINTREE COUNTY and PORGY AND BESS for example. In China you can buy the latest films on dvd in most dvd shops.You can even buy them on the streets or outside railway stations for less.than a US dollar each .It is not only films that are pirated but stage shows (West End and Broadway) that are able to be bought on dvd. One of the biggest pirates of stage shows in NYC even works in the Broadway theater.
     
  14. cinerama10

    cinerama10 Second Unit

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    Probably the biggest sellers of pirated films are on ebay. If you report them to ebay they rarely do anything. They are two faced when it comes to piracy.Sellers cannot sell duplicate copies of copyrighted films but there are thousands of people selling such pirated films on ebay especially in Canada and the USA..
     
  15. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    thanks for the info.

    i dont even think of being able to do something about other countries !!

    but i think most of the stuff i am concerned about originated in the usa

    and would like to see rules that encouraged people to release products that the public desires.
     
  16. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Cinematographer

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    Sorry... no. Here's the definition: "The legal right to be the only one to reproduce, publish, and sell a book, musical recording, etc., for a certain period of time."

    The purpose of copyright is to protect the interest(s), and by inference profits, of *one* person, group, or corporation. It exists so the "creator" of the product can make money without fearing someone will steal the product from them over a specified period of time. Benefit to the public doesn't come into play as far as copyright is concerned. If you create something to "benefit the public" you wouldn't need, or possibly even want, copyright protection as it's done as a public service. Copyright protection is done so people have incentive to produce a product from which they can make money without fear of someone else "ripping them off."
     
  17. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    you missed the boat.

    the definition of something has nothing to do with the purpose of something.

    at least in theory, the govt is the people.

    giving protection to an individual so that he doesnt get ripped off, gives him incentive to create a product.

    that product is used BY THE PEOPLE.
     
  18. Brian Himes

    Brian Himes Screenwriter

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    Ok, I've been following this discussion here and in other threads and I think what you seem to be missing or not understanding Jimmy is that making an HD transfer (either from video tape, 35mm prints or 16mm prints) is not changing the original work in the slightest. All you are doing is cleaning up what is, has or was always existing. Therefore, an HD transfer of a public domain film or TV show cannot and will not be copyright protected. Now the process you used to clean up or restore the film or TV show may be subject to copyright protection but not the end product. Ultimately, someone else can come along and use a different process and achieve the same results and their end product is no more copyright protected than yours was.

    Colorization is copyright protected because you changed the original elements in someway (colorizing them) that wasn't inherent in the first place.

    The bottom line, you have to make some sort of fundamental change to the original elements of a public domain film or TV to qualify for copyright protection. Then only the changes you made are protected. The film or TV show is still in the public domain as it originally existed. An HD transfer or restoration does not change anything of the original elements. I think that this is what you are getting hung up on and not understanding.
     
  19. sidburyjr

    sidburyjr Second Unit

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    But this seems to imply that if you take a PD title, clean it up, HD it and sell it then it's still PD. Which means I can buy a copy of your cleaned up HD'd disk and start duplicating it and selling it and you have no recourse. What, if anything, am I missing?
     
  20. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    hi brian,

    i completely understand what you are saying. and i appreciate your comment.

    even though i am not entirely convinced, i am no longer debating what currently is.

    so for sake of discussion here, i will assume that you guys are completely correct with regards to the CURRENT ruling of hd transfers.

    however, it is completely up to interpretation about what a "change" is.

    i think it is easily arguable that there is a huge change in the product once it goes from a somewhat crappy pq-quality to something amazing.

    i dont know how old you are, and whether you ever watched tv back in the 60s.

    when i see that level of pq now, it is almost unwatchable to me, it is so poor with what i have now come to expect.

    the reason why we, as a society, have copyright - is so that we in society can benefit.

    if this lack of copyright is keeping society from enjoying a vastly superior product, we need to rethink this particular situation.

    i am not at all suggesting that the current product be removed from pd.

    but it behooves society to grant a copyright protection capability to hd transfers, if we want to encourage someone to do it. it would be ridiculously naive of us to expect someone to put forth a lot of their time and money, and not be compensated for it.

    that is no different than asking someone to work from 9 to 5 for free.

    the copyright would be granted to just the hd-transfer of the film. anyone could sell or distribute the original film in its pd elements.

    so to summarize - i am assuming you are absolutely correct about how it works currently.

    and discussing how i think things should be, for the betterment of society.

    one of the least understood concepts that i come across are the ideas of realistic and idealistic.

    people mistakenly think that you are one or the other. when in actuality, they have nothing to do with each other.

    being realistic is all about looking at things the way they currently are. and i always attempt to be totally realistic. which is why i have been pushing you guys to come up with extremely concrete reasons for your replies. i would like to have seen court cases.

    being idealistic or not, has everything to do with how things should be. many people dont really give it much thought.

    as a highly paid systems analyst, it comes almost second nature to me.

    thanks again for your post.
     

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