So, What Didn't Enter The Public Domain This Week, That Should Have

from the take-a-look dept

A couple weeks ago, I pointed out that, while some stuff was entering the public domain in many countries around the globe on January 1st, here in the US, we got a big fat empty set. The good folks over at the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University have put out their depressing annual post about what should have been entering the public domain this year if we still were working under the previous copyright law regime, before it changed in 1978 via the 1976 Copyright Act. Under that law, the maximum length of copyright was 56 years — meaning that works from 1956 would have entered the public domain yesterday. There were some impressive works that will remain locked up for decades:

The post lists out a bunch of books that would be going into the public domain:

They also list out a bunch of movies, music, scientific publications and much, much more. All locked up. As they note, the more popular of these works continue to survive (but not have the same sorts of revivals they might otherwise have), but lesser works are literally disintegrating and disappearing because we can’t make copies. Extra shameful are some of the movies that were made on top of existing public domain works — yet whose own adaptations may never reach the public domain. Movies like Forbidden Planet and Around the World in 80 Days were examples of works built on the public domain, but which themselves remain completely locked up. It’s very sad if you support culture.

And, of course, this only covers works that were kept under copyright for the full 56 years. Since the earlier copyright law required a renewal at 28 years, and 85% of copyrights were not renewed (suggesting that the vast majority of copyright holders don’t value them past 28 years), lots of works from 1984 should also be entering the public domain, but probably won’t get there for another century or so.

And the real sad part is just how much culture we’re losing because of all this:

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current copyright term is that in most cases, the cultural harm is not offset by any benefit to an author or rights holder. Unlike the famous works highlighted here, the vast majority of works from 1956 do not retain commercial value. This means that no one is benefiting from continued copyright, while the works remain both commercially unavailable and culturally off limits. The public loses the possibility of meaningful access for no good reason.

It’s difficult to see how this situation makes any sense at all.

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Comments on “So, What Didn't Enter The Public Domain This Week, That Should Have”

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PaulT (profile) says:

I think it’s interesting that most of the books listed there are famous largely due to adaptations into other media, rather than famous as books on their own. That, combined with the number of movies listed that are based on public domain works, nicely illustrates that there’s often more value from allowing people to build on a work than anything intrinsic in a single version.

As ever, I find myself wondering what masterpieces might be out there, inaccessible and unknown to the mainstream that cannot be publicised or adapted due to this rule. Is there another Minority Report (for example) that could be adapted into a great movie in order to protect someone’s profits? Probably not the author’s either, as since Dick spent most his life in poverty and only gained mainstream visibility with the film of Blade Runner (whose release he didn’t live to witness) – so who knows about his less successful contemporaries and their work?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually PKD has only gained real Hollywood appeal far later than Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?). Total Recall (Short story: We Remember It For You Wholesale) was more of a firestarter. That could very well be the result of a cooperative and inexpensive estate.

When that is said, I know for a fact that there are older and still very relevant gems out there.

The starving of public domain is very bad after the internet has arrived. Before that, there were good arguments for keeping copyright open to not loose old works completely. Today you digitalise it and spread it as “free stuff” on the internet, mostly through p2p.

Public domain has changed enormously the last 20 years and I am not doubting for a second that it will be a benifit for the majority of the works that would otherwise be abandonware and to a large extend extinct, ironically, due to a far too inflexible copyright.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Hmmm… I’d still argue that Blade Runner was most important to PKD in the long term, it just wasn’t instant. The film flopped on its initial release and owes much of its current classic status to rediscovery via multiple cuts on home video releases. Lots of people (myself included) started looking into his work because of that, even though the flop nature of its original release stopped a lot of producers from wanting to make another adaptation. Total Recall was the next of many scripts to climb out of development hell after that, around the time of BR’s home release, and it wasn’t until the start of this decade that multiple adaptations really started to get greenlights.

So, it’s down to personal experience but I’d definitely bet that more people were introduced to Dick’s work by Blade Runner than anything accomplished on the page alone would have achieved, which was really my point.

velox (profile) says:

Re: Re:

” most of the books listed there are famous largely due to adaptations into other media, rather than famous as books on their own”

Do you want another example of a currently copyrighted work that is an adaption of much earlier work?
How about the Bible?

The Revised Standard Version –NT copyright 1946, OT copyright 1952. Those copyrights continue to be enforced, perhaps because the National Council of Churches of Christ believes in spreading to the gospel only to those who have properly licensed it.

For those who haven’t read the Bible, it should be clear that the RSV owes a great deal to the 1611 King James Version. Now for the KJV, 402 years ought to safely ensure that the work is in the public domain right? In most of the world the answer is yes, but in the UK, the Crown still claims a Royal prerogative on the publishing rights to the King James Bible. This use of this prerogative with respect to the KJV has been granted to Cambridge University which still attempts to exert their rights to restrict publishing anything longer than 500 verses without permission.

That One Guy (profile) says:

I must say, I look forward to either a maximalist-free comment section this time around, as they do everything in their power to avoid commenting on the travesty showcased here, or the laughable excuses they’ll make to try and defend the fact that any growth to the public domain in the US is essentially dead due to all the extensions to copyright duration that have been tacked on.

Personally I’m rather hoping for the latter, after reading something this depressing, I could do with a laugh.

Anonymous Coward says:

the copyright periods were and always are extended to cover the movie industries more than any other and are not intended to keep monies flowing to anyone other than those industries. like all the other copyright and file sharing laws, they are to maintain an income for the industries and to stop anyone producing a ‘re-make’ without paying the industries again, even when the original work was already publicly ‘owned’. this situation is thanks to politicians that are more interested in getting their name attached to some political enactment so as to appear that they did something while in office and also to line their own pockets by ‘encouragements’ received from those industries. nothing is ever done that is of benefit to the people that are supposed to be represented by those politicians simply because the people cant afford to pay out sufficient in bribes to make it worth the while of the politicians!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“the copyright periods were and always are extended to cover the movie industries more than any other…”

True, but they fail to renew many copyrights, allowing a LOT of material to fall into the Public Domain.
A classic example: Most of the Fleisher Brothers animated output (Popeye, Superman, Betty Boop, Casper, Koko the Clown, etc.)

Also, the early Oswald cartoons created by Walt Disney.
However, since Disney, Inc would just outspend you in court (even though they don’t have a legal leg to stand on), they’re in a “de facto” copyright tie-down.

out_of_the_blue says:

I don't think any "culture" is actually lost, you just have to pay for it.

“previous copyright law regime, before it was changed by commercial interests in 1978 via the 1976 Copyright Act.” — Fixed that for ya. Laws don’t just change themselves, ya know, But you start off as always by omitting any mention of bad actors. I think that lacuna is ingrained by your Ivy League “education”.

“maximum length of copyright was 58 years” — Pretty sure you mean fifty-SIX, unless some oddity that doesn’t come to mind.

Take the loop to!
Every “new business model” here requires first getting valuable products (including money) for free.

Zakida Paul says:

Re: I don't think any "culture" is actually lost, you just have to pay for it.

No culture being lost? I have met parents whose children do not even know who Mickey Mouse is because Disney refuse to allow him to ascend to the public domain. That is an incredible shame because the older generations will speak of the great pleasure they had as kids watching Mickey Mouse for the first time.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: I don't think any "culture" is actually lost, you just have to pay for it.

@ Zakida Paul (profile), Jan 2nd, 2013 @ 4:36am

Re: I don’t think any “culture” is actually lost, you just have to pay for it.
No culture being lost? I have met parents whose children do not even know who Mickey Mouse is because Disney refuse to allow him to ascend to the public domain. That is an incredible shame because the older generations will speak of the great pleasure they had as kids watching Mickey Mouse for the first time.


MAN, don’t set the bar for mockery so damn low! I’m not that witty: you mock yourself better than I ever can!

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up at same place!
Why so many self-referring links here? Techdirt logic: old assertions prove new assertions.

Alex says:

Re: I don't think any "culture" is actually lost, you just have to pay for it.

Really? And how much should one pay, if, say, they want to base their work off an existing work that is not in public domain yet but should have been (not unlike what Disney did to works in public domain)? Millions of $$ in attorney fees and negotiations that would otherwise be spent on, you know, productive stuff.

The price is too big to pay, period. This is not about passive slave-like consumption as per your narrow-minded suggestion. This is about re-hashing existing works and taking them as a base to produce new cultural works. You know, the way it’s been done for millenia. Now a bunch of culture pirates want to take it and lock it down. It’s a travesty.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Maybe we need some help...

“… lesser works are literally disintegrating and disappearing because we can’t make copies.”

That just made me laugh. Can’t implies some sort of barrier. I have been making copies of copyrighted works for decades. Vinyl to cassette, radio to cassette, cassette to CD, CD to CD, CD to mp3, and I could go on for a while.

So if we can’t make copies, maybe we just need to learn to use the copying technologies.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Maybe we need some help...

You can’t legally make copies that should probably say, but then who is going to pay to record, restore and maintain a pristine copy of a work if it’s literally illegal to make something off it when you’ve done your work? Remember, we’re also talking about master copies here, not just whatever lossy format was once available to buy (and can equally become unusual after long periods of storage). Some works have been saved by such “pirates” before, but for more obscure works where even the original release copies are hard to come by, how long before the work is lost forever – all there needs to be is another MGM vault fire or similar to remove works forever, as happened in the past…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Maybe we need some help...

The older Doctor Who episodes are a good example here, a lot of the BBC’s own material is missing for the early episodes, some those which are now released on DVD were preserved by ‘pirates’ but apparently there are episodes for which a decent copy still hasn’t been found. And Doctor Who was a really famous series at the time.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Maybe we need some help...

Indeed, but that does just prove the point in some ways. Even a popular show like Doctor Who or a classic movie like Nosferatu can be endangered and only rescued by lawbreakers – and those were only endangered due to bad decisions rather than natural obscurity. Now imagine the fate of other shows that were less successful at the time and so didn’t get recorded.

Also, the home copies made by viewers at the time must surely have made inferior copies to the ones that could have been retained and restored by the BBC. Even if the episodes are still available to view in some form, the masters have most certainly been lost forever, and to prevent that requires more work than copying a CD to MP3. Said work is also rather more expensive and thus unlikely if the legal right to do so is prevented…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Maybe we need some help...

Yep, and Nosferatu almost got lost because a court ordered it destroyed for copyright infringement, while London After Midnight is lost due to the only known copies of it being destroyed in the MGM vault fire. The former is a well known classic with huge numbers of adaptations and alternate versions, while the latter is lost to history with only a niche fan base to ever remember it existed to begin with. The difference? Nosferatu was pirated, while MGM made sure it had all known copies of it returned to them.

It all boils down to the same thing – work that should be available to the public for all time is potentially lost because the only way to preserve it is to break the law. If a pirated or stolen copy of London After Midnight is never located, it’s lost forever and the same fate may await the contemporaries of the works mentioned above – just so those studios don’t lose a profit opportunity.


Re: Re: Re:2 There is a hole in your culture

While there will likely be a big gaping hole in our cultural record corresponding to the time between Steamboat Willie and the dawn of digital media, anything made past that point will likely be preserved whether Media Moguls like it or not.

It’s sad that many things will be lost. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be that way in the future.

If you want to know, you can preserve it.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Maybe we need some help...

Think before you speak and you’d realize that the issue isn’t that simplistic. There are literally thousands of works rotting in film vaults that nobody is preserving. Also, there are works that nobody is preserving because they are so obscure and the author has no interest in their archiving. It’s not about the the technology, that’s not in question, it’s about access to the works that need to be copied in order to preserve them.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Re: Maybe we need some help...

Actually it is that simplistic. I found the line “can’t copy” to be humorous, but the reality is that as we do what is in our nature, sharing, then we actually preserve our culture.

Sure there are thousands of words rotting in film vaults, but thanks to many of us, there are many thousands of works that would be joining those rotting away but have been shared and can be accessed by everyone.

Share and Enjoy. (see how that works)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Maybe we need some help...

Unless you plan on rereleasing something, having it archived is just a waste of money. Why would any profit-seeking entity do so?

As soon as they go bankrupt the masters are shattered among former employees, never to see the light of day again, or they are lost to a collector or they are lost to reuse policies or they are lost to fires, floods, earthquakes and plain bad archiving etc. etc. etc.

The safest is to store the work noncetralized and that is done best digitally and in non-closed systems.

The best way to ensure the survival of culture today is to release it to the public asap. The best way to ensure art is ensuring a way for the artist to make a living and so far the business-model has been government granted monopoly. The best way to preserve the spirit of the artist is letting the artist live undisturbed which mean letting the artist have the flexibility to choose protection of the work for a short period of time even after the artists death. 50 and 70 years after death are very far above what is close to reasonable in this case, but less than 10 years could make some people see an economic opportunity in wacking an artist to gain the possibility of recreating and selling the work.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Maybe we need some help...

That is absolutely absurd. A decentralized archival of works is incompatible with a monopoly over the same such works. You do realize that the prefix of “monopoly” is “mono”, which means “one”, don’t you?

“The best way to ensure art is ensuring a way for the artist to make a living and so far the business-model has been government granted monopoly.”

That is pure, unmitigated fallacy and also, it’s your mere opinion. The best way to ensure art is to allow it to propagate unhindered. That is a fact. Art is the means to communicate ideas and the best way to spread ideas is to allow them to spread without restriction, even to encourage it. Art will flourish regardless of whether it is viable as an occupation and we are under no obligation to provide any class of citizen a monopoly of any kind. Since your original premise is false, all proceeding assertions based on that premise are rendered invalid.

Eponymous Cowad says:

Re: Maybe YOU need some help...

…in seeing the broader point about this.

It isn’t just the problem that physical copies of certain works are being lost, it’s that we’re losing the value of those work culturally too. Adapting a previous work reasserts the cultural significance of the story for a contemporary audience. This act is the cutural equivilance of taking a work on wax cylinder and transferring it into a MP3. It is not good enough to just preserve the original when there is no social interest in it, but adapting a work, assuming that it’s good and relevant, brings that interests and benefits both the adaptation and the original. This entire process in the end benefits culture as a whole, which is what we lack at present. While you may willingly make illegal copies of works, not many people would be so willing to make illegal adaptations of older works and face the liability that would ensue. If I am wrong about you, and others here, maybe then you should start a legal defense fund for unapproved adaptations. Without some legal change here our common culture is only doomed to stagnate and atrophy…

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current copyright term is that in most cases, the cultural harm is not offset by any benefit to an author or rights holder.

While I see copyright as damaging to society, their is a commercial argument for long copyrights. Long copyright allows the publishers to keep old works out of the market and so reduce competition for new works.
With the increasing dependency on digital works, where DRM is used, works will be lost more quickly, as the second hand market is destroyed, With DRM copies die with devices, and or the person to whom they were licensed.
The disadvantage of long copyright, the destruction of culture by causing it to be forgotten far outweighs any commercial advantage to the publishers.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

These works though are all in the public domain everywhere else on the planet, just not in America – you know… the land of the “pay me now for what my grandkids did” place.

So therefore your ‘market’ is only 5% of the planet. Whereas the other 95% don’t have to legally pay you diddly squat, in fact can legally remove your DRM on any of these works (though not adaptations).

Therefore the argument for long copyrights in a limited and actually minute market only is basically itself bogus.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’d like to add the following:

“Whereas the other 95% don’t have to legally pay you diddly squat”

…but can certainly choose to do so if you offer a product that encourages them to, perhaps by offering extra content or a version superior to the one used by public domain releasers.

That’s definitely a point worth stressing. Public domain doesn’t mean you can’t make money, it only removes the artificial barrier that prevents others from doing the same. There’s nothing to stop you cashing in, you just have to compete with a playing field that’s now level.

So, even that argument disappears, unless you’re of the school that thinks that a work should generate money forever with no further effort to attract future customers. In which case, you deserve to go out of business.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And there are various treaties about respecting the copyright lengths of other countries.

Nope no such animal.

Reciprocity on copyright only works under the Berne Convention for works currently under copyright in the relevant countries. If a work goes into the PD in one of the signatory countries the other countries have no say whatsoever. This is why The Great Gatsby and other works are free and in the PD everywhere except the USA.

Though this doesn’t mean the USA doesn’t try to make there egregious rules and lengths of copyright terms the norm under things like TRIPS, AFACT (now moot everywhere) etc they still haven’t been able to retrospectively get countries to change existing works. Only the USA and Germany currently do this stupidity

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Long copyright allows the publishers to keep old works out of the market and so reduce competition for new works.”

In order for this statement to be accepted, you have to believe one other thing to be true. You must believe that you’re in a product industry. I reject the claim wholeheartedly. It’s a service industry and the sooner everyone accepts that, the sooner everyone realizes that copyright is a huge waste of time and is holding art back.

Eponymous Coward says:

Re: Joining the pile-on party...

“Long copyright allows the publishers to keep old works out of the market and so reduce competition for new works.”

I feel your assertion is deeply flawed in it’s assumption that public domain works are “competition” to a publisher for said has full rights to republish these works, limiting such “competition” and opening up a new revenue stream, plus they are further able to publish new works that are an adaptation and/or a derivative work of the original (which, in the examples provided above, could be something like Minority Report With Zombies). I conclude that in the end long copyright doesn’t help the publishers much either.

Luther says:

Re: Re: Re:

Regardless of where the film was made it is subject to U.S. copyright law in the U.S….

It should only be subject to U.S. copyright law if so desired by rightsholders. If the work is public domain in the country of origin and the rightsholders are agreeable, the government should have no say on whether the work is public domain in the U.S. or not

tanj says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think you misread my post. I was responding to another post.

In response to the idea that the film would not be subject to U.S. copyright law due to the country it was made in I wanted to point out that the copyright status of the film is controlled by U.S. copyright law in regards to U.S. distribution.

I was only trying to point out that the film’s origin has no relevance on how it is treated in regards to U.S. copyrights.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The version listed would be “Godzilla, King Of The Monsters”, which is the re-cut version released in American cinemas with extra footage starring Raymond Burr, and not the original Gojira. I’m not sure of the copyright status, but it may well be that the US studio responsible for the recut version kept the copyright for their version while Toho kept hold of the copyright on the original. In that case, it’s possible that the US release version should be public domain even if the original Japanese version should not.

Dogs Dinner Done Daily says:

Copyright vs The value of the work

Those who desire longer copyright periods do not consider the works to be of any value to future generations and are hoping that the works will completely disappear before any legal preservation work can be undertaken.

It they considered it valuable to future generations they would automatically ensure that it was preserved in any way possible. Case in point, all books that are no longer published and cannot be obtained even in the second hand market.

And now for something completely different (to paraphrase a gorup (not a mistake) of non-humourous film-makers).

Now that this year is last year and next year is this year, expect this year to have some interesting times and events after the non-event of last year.

If the last didna make sens, yanot thinkin very hard.

That makes even less sense. Descending into trauma with a chunk taken out of the head.

We’re still here, where’s the end of the world that the documentary “2012” described? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhg.

The pain in the head is too much. Getting a cancer cut out is just too traumatic. My eyebrow is now too high, my good looks are no longer ugly man quality.

Danger Robin Willson, danger – I have blown a fuse in my computational matrix and can no longer cogitate like a polish mechanical humiform.

I’m nuts, I’m Nuts, i’M NUTS – no I want some cashews, salted and roasted.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Too bad copyright doesn't expire no more?

It’s a damn shame that copyright doesn’t de facto expire anymore. The public domain represents absolute freedom to me. That’s why I will dedicate everything I ever created to the public domain upon my death. Hell, I even donated works to the public domain already, here, here and here. I also even made a copyright-free happy birthday song.

It’s too bad that copyright is the standard for publication instead of the public domain. 🙁

kenichi tanaka says:

Somebody mentioned Doctor early episodes being a reason. Well, the BBC didn’t archive their earlier programs as they should have done and routinely recorded over and over those tapes and so a lot of earlier Doctor Who episodes just aren’t available, except for what is available from private owners who videotaped from the television.

Most of those earlier episodes, if they find the audio, will result in “animated versions” of those episodes with the original dialogue included.

There simply is a lot of Doctor Who content from its earlier years that are no longer available to be released, unless the BBC decides to just refilm those episodes with the original screenplays.

Sabrina says:

copyright to strict

The copyright law is too strict. After an author of a work dies the work should not be protected by copyright law. I don’t like the Sonny Bono Act. Why would an author want their copyright to last longer than they live? They won’t profit from it when they are dead. It seem to seem the big companies and corportions have more influence in copyright laws than the average citizen. I started a petition to try and limit copyright law.

It is not searchable on the yet because I don’t have 150 signatures yet. I would like to limit copyright more than what my petition calls for but am not sure If it would go far if I did that so I would be happy to a least have this get somewhere.

I really don’t like the copyright law monopoly. If the old fairy tales were copyrighted long ago where would disney be?Copyright limits creativity. Many people have got their ideas from other stories and yet there are people out there willing to sue if others borrow from their work.

I wish stories like “The Lord of the Rings” were in the public domain.

Some Canuck says:

Sonny Bono Act

Sonny Bono didn’t extend copyright past death, that came from Disney, IBM and others who wanted to prevent their earliest works from falling into the public domain.

For books, this means the children earn royalties while protecting their parents’ vision.

For movies, etc. owned by companies, this means they can continue controlling it because they have no family to pay royalties too.

That’s why Bono opened another can of worms by inserting a clause that let creators get their works back at the time of renewal. It was his way of helping artists like Little Richard or The Beatles who lost all control of the songs he wrote.

Problem with that is, comic books are proving the terms of today aren’t so easily defined with systems of the past, and the whole “work for hire” question is going to tie up some courts for a long time.

Vanessa says:

More ZOG control

I know that this post will offend a lot of people, but I don’t give a shit I speak my mind. But I wonder if zionists are using this legislation as a sort of cover while they clear out every written work that has been critical of Israel in the last 95 years.

Just like in Orwell’s 1984, MiniTruth had to constantly destroy the old books because they didn’t fit with the current manufactured “reality.”

Well, here’s a hypothetical: supposed there is a certain book that provides a first-hand account of Israeli atrocities committed by, say the Irgun during the 1950’s. That book is unacceptable to ZOG’s current version of reality because it criticizes Israel. So all ZOG has to do is steal whatever few copies are left in any university libraries (most scholarly works from that period would be few in number, and copyright law prevents any copies to be made to preserve or backup the work.) Presto, chango! What atrocities? There were never any atrocities committed, where’s your proof? Oh it’s in a book that no one can see? Right. Down the memory hole you go!

Perfect THOUGHT control. REALITY control. ZOG always wants to “be first with the truth” like David Patreus said.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Public Domain Movies

“Why is it that when movies go into public domain the studios don’t care about them”

Firstly, because they don’t have any monopoly rights on the film. Somehow, they thing they can only make money if they can block anyone else from doing so. Secondly, movies that go into the public domain only usually do so due to age, and studio already abandon most of their non-blockbuster titles after a poor opening weekend, let alone decades after release.

“if these movies are shown as poorly made dupes or are worn out?”

There’s a few reasons for this. First of all, the companies who specialise in public domain movies are usually interested in low margin turnarounds of existing stock. So, they pick up dirt cheap copies of old prints, do zero restoration work and release them as cheap as possible (e.g. Mill Creek box sets or the DVDs you can see in dollar stores).

The flipside is that most movies that end up in the public domain tend to end up there because there’s no studio who can claim (or are interested in claiming) copyright over them. This usually means that the movies are B-movies, weren’t financially successful at the time, are difficult to locate, etc. Film stock degrades over time and requires correct storage and/or restoration. So, unless a public interest such as a museum picks up the title or it gets the attention of a Criterion or Keno, the resulting release will be a copy of a print that’s degraded over time.

Videoranger (profile) says:

56 years?

I am confused by this article, my understanding is the old copyright law you got 28 years plus 47 if you renewed. meaning 75 years total. Where did you get the 56? so under the old law if you did a 1956 show and did not renew it then it would expire 1956 plus 28 years so 1984 it would have gone Public domain in the US. all the shows movies etc made in the US not renewed by 1960 or so went into the public domain. They have ways to trick the copyright laws for example Its a wonderful life when PD then back out of PD on a technicality.

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