Only Surviving Recording Of The Very First Superbowl Is Because A Fan Recorded It, But You Can't See It, Because Copyright
from the dirty-pirates dept
We’ve written a few times in the past about how the entertainment industry’s woeful job of preserving and archiving old works has resulted in culture being lost — but also how unauthorized copies (the proverbial “damn dirty pirates”) have at least saved a few such treasures from complete destruction. There was, for example, the “lost” ending to one of the movie versions of Little Shop of Horrors that was saved thanks to someone uploading it to YouTube. Over in the UK, a lost episode of Dad’s Army was saved due to a private recording. However, Sherwin Siy points out that the very first Super Bowl — Super Bowl I, as they put it — was basically completely lost until a tape that a fan made showed up in someone’s attic in 2005. Except, that footage still hasn’t been made available, perhaps because of the NFL’s standard “we own everything” policy. From Cracked:
It sounds crazy nowadays, but during the ’60s, NBC and CBS, who broadcast Super Bowl I, essentially had no archiving policy for anything other than primetime shows, so neither one kept a copy of the historic game beyond a few random clips. And seeing as home video technology was still a few years away, the broadcast footage was considered lost forever until a mostly-complete recording turned up in a Pennsylvania attic in 2005, made by a fan at a video production company.
And we have to emphasize “mostly” here — the copy is missing much of the third quarter, the entire halftime show, and several smaller bits. The Paley Center for Media tried reconstructing these parts using official sideline footage and fan-made audio recordings, but the last we heard about the project was way back in 2011, right around the time the NFL started claiming sole copyright ownership of the footage. Probably a coincidence.
Other reports explain in more detail that, indeed, the NFL stepped in to “protect” the work it had failed to originally protect:
The NFL has claimed ownership of the broadcast itself and while the Paley Center was allowed to keep a copy of the game, it cannot show it without permission from the owner of the videotapes, who reportedly would like to sell the tapes.
The original WSJ article about all of this details the NFL’s claim to the man who found the tape, who has remained nameless.
Mr. Harwood, the attorney, says he contacted the NFL in 2005 about the tape. He says the league sent him a letter on Dec. 16, 2005 claiming the NFL was the exclusive owner of the copyright. Mr. Harwood says the NFL offered his client $30,000 for the tape and his client declined. Mr. Harwood said his client would like to sell the tapes and make them available to the public if the legal issues can be resolved.
So the NFL failed to save it. A fan did. And now no one can see it because the NFL is claiming copyright over the footage it failed to protect. Great to see copyright “protecting” culture once again, huh?