"Ultimate Hitchcock Collection" Public Domain release

Discussion in 'DVD' started by SD_Brian, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Supporting Actor

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  2. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    This is a pirated collection.

    The films are NOT in the public domain.

    It's a pity to see that Amazon now openly supports and sells pirated merchandise, and this set should be avoided like the plague.

    Even the use of Hitchcock's name, signature and likeness may be illegal.

    RAH
     
  3. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    It isn't just Amazon. Walk into any retail store (Wal Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc) and you will see the PD Hitchcock titles.

    Whoever controls the rights is doing nothing to enforce them.

    Even the major (and otherwise reputable) PD companies are continuing to release new versions. If someone were to alert them of the case, they would probably cease and desist, but I guess that hasn't happened.
     
  4. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    These films might not be public domain by legal definitions, but they certainly seem to be in the public domain for all practical purposes.
     
  5. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    I've seen this in retail stores, too.

    Andy
     
  6. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Supporting Actor

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    So, leaving aside the moral and ethical dilemma for a moment: If someone was interested in Hitchcock's early works but was unable to find "official" releases, does anyone know anything about the relative quality of these commercially available "Public Domain" releases? Are they watchable?
     
  7. Mark B

    Mark B Supporting Actor

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  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Putting aside the legal, which is difficult, the release is unacceptable at even PD standards.

    As has been noted, they look much like a typical VHS PD release based upon 16mm dupes.

    Not a pretty picture.

    RAH
     
  9. Mark B

    Mark B Supporting Actor

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    Being in complete agreement with what you have said, I can not believe that the films (of one of our most highly respected and marketable directors) are not being properly preserved and made available in the most pristine form possible on home video. It's a shame and a travesty.
     
  10. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Supporting Actor

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    At the risk of exposing my ignorance of copyright law: If, as Mr. Harris says, these movies are not in the public domain, how do so many companies get away with openly selling them? It's not like these are bootlegs you'd have to pick up in a back alley somewhere; these are readily available both through reputable online vendors such as Amazon and in many B&M stores such as Best Buy, Fry's, Circuit City and Wal-Mart. Is it just a lack of enforcement or is there some other kind of standard being applied? I would think that, in our extremely litigious society, none of the above mentioned vendors would risk openly selling an illegal product.

    Is anyone familiar with how these companies are able to get away with it?
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Very simple.

    They haven't been sued.

    Yet.

    This boxed set incorporates the holdings of several UK entities, which might finally raise their ire.

    The problem going after PD companies is that you can seldom collect damages, which in this case could easily go into the millions -- and the federal authorities are busy elsewhere.
     
  12. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    There's a useful website devoted to Alfred Hitchcock on DVD that sorts out quality issues and I think legalities. It recommends what to buy and what to stay away from. I lost the link in a PC crash but if you do a search you may find it. Or perhaps someone here knows the link. Search the HTF for "public domain Hitchcock" it may turn up in one of those threads.
     
  13. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    If you're referring to Dave Pattern's excellent site Richard, it's linked in Mark B's post #7. BTW, I wholeheartedly support Robert's stance on bootleg releases. Just stay away...
     
  14. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It's just not worth it. Even though I paid $1 for a DVD with The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Sabotage, and Easy Virtue (just to see how bad the films looked), it went into the trash quickly. Even if it's cheap, it doesn't change the fact that it's impossible to enjoy a movie with such poor quality. Especially after nearly all of the British films have had fully restored releases in Region 2.
     
  15. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Hi, John!
    Haven't seen you around in awhile.

    I thought that link was to something else, thanks for the straight of it. Most of the titles in the bootleg St. Clair set are available in better quality in authorized editions. The site shows authorized sets in the recommended list at the bottom. I have most of these authorized sets and the quality is so much better. Why settle for poor quality transfers when you don't have to.
     
  16. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Supporting Actor

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    Yikes! Those screenshots of the St. Clair DVDs have convinced me that I will only pick this set up in the unlikely event that I ever become overly curious about how Hitchcock movies look to people suffering from glaucoma.
     
  17. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    It is indeed. People want to see Hitchcock's early films. If they can't get good quality, they'll settle for poor quality. Not everyone can go the import route to get those titles that are unavailable officially in the USA, and some titles aren't available officially anywhere. This is why bootleggers thrive. Bootleg editions of Hitchcock's early films must number in the thousands. That's how intense the consumer demand is.

    Authorized editions of these highly popular Hitchcock films would put the bootleggers out of business.
     
  18. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    Lawyers would too.

    Look what happened with IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Every PD company released it, but once an official version was released, and they were notified of its status, they stopped.

    And most people don't know the difference between PD and a regular release, let alone have a multi region player. They just pick up what they find in the Wal Mart budget bin.
     
  19. IanUngstad

    IanUngstad Extra

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    Criterion has the "legal" rights to both The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes in Region One. I wonder if the proliferation of public domain copies influenced them not to go after some of the other british Hitchcocks?

    It might also tie in with Criterion's release of The Most Dangerous Game, it was offically licensed from Universal, but a lot of the public domain companies stole Criterion's transfer. (I think the same might be true for Carnival of Souls as well?) I must admit not seeing any PD companies using Criterion's transfer of Charade or My Man Godfrey.

    Why bother paying the expenses to do a nice deluxe version of a film that pd companies are going to steal. I don't know why Criterion hasn't started suing some of those companies, or the British rights-holders.
     
  20. Tory

    Tory -The Snappy Sneezer- -Red Huck-

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    In regards to British films, do not buy Jef Films from amazon or buy or if you see them anywhere, it is the same situation but with less in demand films. It is better to import, it is not so hard, it is not illegal and you can find better presentations, even with conversion.
     

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