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Mister Ed PD Curiosity


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4 replies to this topic

#1 of 5 JasonPW

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Posted January 04 2006 - 06:24 AM

Okay, apologies if this has been covered before...I'll be shocked if it has.

I got a DVD set of old TV shows for Christmas....it's a Dollar General style cheapie, all public domain stuff like Our Miss Brooks, I Married Joan, etc.

But there are 2 Mister Ed shows on there--one is a "payroll savings" film produced by the government (sidetrack: someone should get all of these "payroll savings" quasi-episodes on one DVD set...I know of at least 6 I can name off the top of my head!)--it's obviously PD, obviously a 16mm print, traditional grungy PD quality.

But then there's the other episode--it's from 1961, the quality is pristine--as good as TV Land airings or better--and.................the MGM Lion precedes the episode!

Now, as far as I knew, MGM's acquisition of "Mister Ed" is fairly recent, and they certainly haven't had the lion logo attached to the show for long.

It was my understanding that even if an episode is in public domain, the company putting it out has to find their own print (through collector's circles, etc)...even if the Mister Ed ep is PD, they can't just copy the episode from a professionally released studio DVD, or a television station's videotape copy....or can they?
"We're a little late, folks...Goodnight!"

#2 of 5 Michael Alden

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Posted January 04 2006 - 06:47 AM

And what makes you think it's not an illegal pirated copy? Just because some company puts a show out and calls it PD doesn't mean it is. Look all over the internet, there are tons of copyrighted shows being bootlegged. Just for example, you mention Our Miss Brooks. That's not PD either. There are legitimate PD shows (actually the more apt description would be copyright not renewed) but there are far more shows put out that are not. Thing is, these big companies don't have the time nor the inclination to go chasing down every pirate selling DVDs from their basement. It's just not worth it to them. They are more worried about the latest theatrical releases that could cost them millions if bootlegged, not some 40+ year old TV shows that they've recouped their money on 50 times over.

#3 of 5 JasonPW

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Posted January 04 2006 - 07:08 AM

Excellent point--it may very well be pirated. I guess this one Mister Ed episode stuck out to me because of its picture quality, especially compared with the "usual suspects" on the rest of the DVD set...if they were going to pirate one episode of "Mr. Ed", why not just pirate a whole bunch?

And I understand that the series "Our Miss Brooks" is not in the public domain--just like "Andy Griffith", "Lucy Show" and many other series are not; however, as you say, copyrights on individual episodes were not renewed and thus end up on these sets.

I guess I made an educated guess that this was a PD collection (as opposed to a pirated set of copyrighted material) because it was purchased at a retail store, not on eBay; it came in a professionally labeled double keepcase, not a DVD-R with "old tv shows" written on the discs with a Sharpie; and, as I indicated earlier, the other eps were things that show up on PD sets over and over again.

But of course, I've seen some pretty slick packages on the ebay stuff too! So I guess these things aren't as easy to spot as they used to be.
"We're a little late, folks...Goodnight!"

#4 of 5 Bob Hug

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Posted January 05 2006 - 01:33 AM

It's quite possible that the particular "Mr. Ed" episode in question is in the public domain, but that the releasing company "borrowed" another company's laser disc or DVD for use as the duplication source, which is a no-no.

Although the entire series of "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Lucy Show" are not in the public domain, there are individual episodes of both series that are in the public domain and that's why you see multiple companies putting out the same episodes time and time again. For "The Andy Griffith Show," there are 16 episodes from the third season in the public domain, while "The Lucy Show" has about 30 public domain episodes from various seasons. Since these episodes are in the public domain, anyone (including you or I) can release them if we so desire . . . but don't expect top notch audio/visual quality on public domain releases since, typically, the episodes are sourced from 16 millimeter syndication prints rather than original film elements.

#5 of 5 Michael Alden

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Posted January 05 2006 - 06:03 AM

But just remember that even if the show itself didn't have the copyright renewed it doesn't mean the music is PD.