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Ellery Queen series (1975) on eBay bootlegs?

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8 replies to this topic

#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Sergio A

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Posted May 21 2004 - 11:45 PM

A number of eBay sellers are offering the classic 1975 ELLERY QUEEN series on DVD saying that the series is now Public Domain. This can't be right can it? Does anyone know what the status of the series is? It was made by Universal - I would love to have them all on DVD of course, but as I understand it, the versions that turn up on TV in the US are always cut by about 10 minutes each anyway. Hopefully, when Columbo is released, it will be such a success that Universal will revisit this other classic Levinson and Link concoction...Well, one can but hope.

#2 of 9 OFFLINE   David Lambert

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Posted May 22 2004 - 12:42 AM

Gee, it sounds just a tad too convenient for them to suddenly find out that the episodes they are selling on homemade discs happen to be public domain.

Basically, there are 4 auctions at the moment of EQ discs on eBay, and 3 sellers. The seller with 2 auctions say that they are PD, and one of the others seems to have added the "hey, we just discovered these are PD" to the bottom of their auction, like an afterthought, after previously stating that their items were legal R0 DVDs, and that they are the only source of non-bootleg material. The third seller doesn't get into this discussion either way.

The ones that do mention "eBay policies regarding PD material," and how they comply with those policies. I'm not a frequent eBay patron, but I'm willing to bet that eBay has posted some policies on this recently, and everyone's scrambling to "comply".

I wish I had time to research this myself with the copyright offices and see how accurate this really is. Posted Image
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#3 of 9 OFFLINE   Deb Walsh

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Posted May 22 2004 - 01:21 AM

I seriously doubt the Dannay and Lee estate would allow that series to go into public domain, even if Universal did. At least one episode and the pilot are based on actual Ellery Queen stories, too. 10 minutes worth of program is cut from the syndication package nowadays? Yet another reason to get my Beta deck fixed ... :>
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#4 of 9 OFFLINE   mark-edk


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Posted May 22 2004 - 03:21 AM

Even if the shows fell into PD (they didn't) the characters would still be trademarked. So these sellers are definitely not legit.

The syndicated episodes were cut by several minutes, but Encore:Mystery ran the entire series, newly transferred and uncut, for several years. So it's possible the bootlegs might be uncut, and possibly even decent quality.

FWIW, my Ellery Queen site includes an episode guide for this series.

#5 of 9 OFFLINE   Steve...O



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Posted May 22 2004 - 03:26 AM

Saying that these are PD is just another way of covering themselves. No way these are PD. Some "grey marketers" who participate in other forums freely admit that they put a PD disclaimer on everything they sell (even though they know it's bogus) to give themselves an "out". Often they'll also put a blurb in there about "if anyone finds that certain titles are not PD, we'll stop selling it". Of course this rarely happens. A legitimate, authorized release of this series would be tempting. Steve
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#6 of 9 OFFLINE   Eric Paddon

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Posted May 22 2004 - 05:01 AM

I would love a legit release since IMO "Ellery Queen" is the best detective show of the 70s and of all time next to "Columbo." I wish I'd caught the uncut episodes on Encore a few years ago since they restored all the teaser openings that ended with "Match wits with Ellery Queen." If those illegit DVDs were from those airings I'd almost be tempted to get them but will pass for now.

#7 of 9 OFFLINE   Charles Ellis

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Posted May 23 2004 - 03:32 AM

That was a great show! I watched it during its original NBC airings in 1974/75, when I was 9, and to this day I don't understand why NBC didn't try to save the show. A few years back reruns were on A&E, so I got to see my old friends again. John Hillerman seems to have fallen off the edge of the earth since "Magnum, P.I." went off the air.
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#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted May 23 2004 - 04:28 AM

I've seen this on other bootleg auctions as well. Unless the shows are over 50 years old they can't be in the public domain, and even shows/movies older than that can have their copyright renewed.

#9 of 9 OFFLINE   Dan Rudolph

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Posted May 23 2004 - 04:20 PM

They actually could be in public domain if someone forgot to copyright them (as in Night of the Living Dead), but I doubt that's the case.
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