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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Press Releases and Film News  |  Another bone head copyright ruling. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Another bone head copyright ruling.  (Read 667 times)
trekgeezer
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« on: June 22, 2010, 02:28:33 PM »

Now Congress can put something in the public domain back under copyright!?


http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100621/2320049908.shtml
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Jim H
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2010, 03:13:56 PM »

I sometimes feel like the RIAA is TRYING to make as many people want to pirate their stuff is possible.  Everything they do is so asinine and ridiculous, and so rarely do they do anything to actually help artists or producers of copyrighted material (the folks copyright is SUPPOSED to help - how is an artist helped if a copyright goes 95 years BEYOND his life?).

As far as the public domain goes, I'd like to know what exactly it is they're trying to bring out of it.  It's horse **** in any case, to pull absolutely anything out of public domain once it has been used for any purpose.  But, this case doesn't cite examples. 
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Rev. Powell
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2010, 12:12:18 PM »

Never trust a journalist (or in this case a blogger) to report on a legal case, anymore than you should trust them to correctly report a scientific study.

"Court Says It's Okay To Remove Content From The Public Domain And Put It Back Under Copyright" is as misleading a title as if a man were acquitted of murder because it was found he acted in self-defense and the headline read "Court Says It's Okay to Take the Lives of Human Beings."  Both examples are missing the important qualifier, "in certain justified, narrowly defined circumstances." 

The only public domain works this ruling applies to is foreign works that were eligible to be copyrighted, but who did not register for copyright in the US or registered but had some sort of technical deficiency.  It specifically does not apply to works whose term of protection has expired.  It's not retroactive, people who previously created derivative works based on the formerly public domain work are not now guilty of infringement, and the companies that were selling these public domain works (or giving them away) even get a one year grace period to continue distributing them.

The reason for this ruling is an international treaty that requires us to observe works copyrighted in other countries, and in return requires them to recognize our copyrights.  This makes lots of sense; there is no reason for me to create something and have to register it in 300 or more countries to protect it. 

The writer of the article either does not understand constitutional law at all or chooses to ignore it to advance his agenda. 
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Jim H
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2010, 02:29:25 AM »

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?
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Rev. Powell
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2010, 01:14:21 PM »

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. 
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"The best parts are watching Sly go through the full range of emotions: deadpan, deadpan with raised eyebrow, deadpan with quivering lip. There's also a great sequence where Sly drives his VW Beetle down the interstate for about 20 minutes, staring dramatically through the windshield.."-Joe Bob on A MAN CALLED RAMBO
Jim H
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2010, 05:08:29 PM »

Well, if they have to file for restoration, I'd say it probably isn't much of an issue.  It might be worth mentioning here that bootlegs of Hong Kong, Chinese and Taiwanese martial arts films are sold in otherwise legitimate outlets on a regular basis in the USA without complaint.  Suncoast (they might all be gone now?) in particular had MANY Shaw Bros. bootlegs in their shops.  And the Shaw catalog is fairly valuable.  I say fairly, as they didn't even finish releasing those restored versions by Celestial since they weren't making enough money to justify continuing.

Most of the other films are probably next to worthless in the DVD market anyway, so I'd say it isn't much of an issue.  Still, I suggest for those who haven't yet, buy up the Mills Creek 50 pack of martial arts films.  Some genuinely good films in it, and some really entertainingly bad ones.  Ya never know.
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