I must admit, I did jump the gun a bit on my earlier comments. I actually read a little while ago on another forum where someone defined what this means. The one thing I'm wondering about, and maybe you can help me out on this Rev, is if this will bring a great deal of those martial arts movies out of the public domain. Many of those, if they were released properly in America, would still be public domain if they were actually American films - for the same reason Night of the Living Dead is, as it didn't give proper copyright notice in the right way.
If I'm hearing you right Rev, this will give these films that were improperly labeled for copyright but released widely in the US copyright status, while many American films with the same status won't be able to leave the public domain. That seems kind of screwy. Is that right?
Yeah, basically. You know, I was thinking this would have very little impact on the bad movies community, but I forgot about the non-Shaw Brothers kung fu movies.
Those could potentially be affected---but only if
the proper copyright holder files a notice of restoration. They don't automatically drop out of the public domain, the copyright holder has to take steps to reassert the copyright. There's no guarantee that will happen in the kung fu cases, as I doubt any of the companies are in existence anymore, and the stuff might not be valuable enough to them to pursue it.
I am not 100% certain on all of the details, and I don't have the extra time to do the research right now. I believe that if a copyright holder never
filed for copyright in the US but filed in their home countries, they will now be retroactively protected. I am not sure what will happen if they were deficient
in filing their copyright notice or chose
not to renew their copyright. You're right, it does seem strange that foreign producers would be treated better than Americans who made the same mistakes. There could potentially be further litigation in those cases.
The lead plaintiff in the case was looking to use Soviet material that was never copyrighted in this country. I'm not sure why the Soviets never copyrighted anything, but it was probably because of cold war tensions between the two countries. It's clear to me that any Soviet stuff (whose term of copyright has not expired) will be covered now. Other types of materials would have to be examined on a case by case basis.