From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: alt.movies.silent, rec.arts.movies.past-films
In article <34510530.660A@earthlink.net>,
> > Someone else asked about the Dmitri Tiomkin score. Since this was written for
> > the film, and not copyrighted separately, the Tiomkin score is p.d. The part
> > that is copyrighted is the "Buffalo Gal" song which Tiomkin incorporates
> > throughout the film, so those parts of the score are protected by copyright.
> > This, and only this, is what establishes the legitimate copyright of the film.
Robert Birchard <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Unless there was some time limit on the synch rights, the use of
> the song in the film ought not to have any effect on the overall public
> domain status and airing the picture on TV (with blanket music
> clearances) should be okay--But does anyone really want to fight a major
> corporation like Republic over the issue?
I'm the one who brought up Dimitri Tiomkin's score for "It's a Wonderful Life" as the basis of Republic's contention that they have some copyright claim on the movie. (If someone "asked about" the score, it wasn't me, as I related the facts as I understood them without posing a question.)
I have heard about Tiomkin's separate copyright on his music in conversation with an authority on movie copyrights and in several newspaper accounts of the lawsuit-threats situation. I can't claim to have actually looked at the copyright entries for a music registration, although there were other instances (albeit relatively few) in the 1940s of a separate music copyright.
As I stated in my previous posting (available via View Thread or Author Profile), the separate copyright wouldn't necessarily preclude public-domain-acquirers of the film from retaining the song if the music sale to Capra/Liberty granted rights to the music in perpetuity for use in the film (separate performance is a different matter) to the studio and its successors. Bob Birchard is saying a similar thing here.
Republic is the current name of the outfit that used to be called National Telefilm Associates (NTA), and before that, U.M.& M. TV. I don't know the specifics of their acquiring "It's a Wonderful Life," but they did have it in the mid-and late-1970s, it's been reported that they were the ones to drop the ball on renewing the copyright (in 1974), and they did make a practice of acquiring the rights to independently-produced films (e.g. the John Garfield "Body and Soul," made by Enterprise the same year as "Wonderful Life;" that copyright was renewed).
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