The copyright questions (again) (was Re: Bow-maniacs / video availability)

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: alt.movies.silent
Date: Tuesday, February 10, 1998 9:16 AM

ChaneyFan wrote in message <>, responding to me…
>>>>2) an improper copyright notice was always on the film itself
>This is not required. There was a federal court decision (maybe even Supreme
>Court) stemming from the fact that Paramount neglected to put copyright notices
>on the first season of Star Trek shows. The notice was then ruled to be

I have long heard that the original "Little Shop of Horrors" entered the public domain because there had been no copyright notice on it. Perhaps because this film was a 1960 release and not post-1963, it doesn't fall into the copyright restorations afforded those later titles. Also: the Three Stooges cartoons (1965, I believe) also have been copied by numerous public-domain video companies (and have had the live-action introductions offered on a single tape by Goodtimes) because of what I termed "improper notice": there is a copyright symbol and year, but no designation as to who claims the copyright.

>>>>3) the original copyright registration was made more than a year after the
>film was first exhibited to paying audiences
>I don't think this has held up either, but I don't know the specific case law.

I know that a later act of Congress (perhaps the 1976 copyright overhaul) extended the filing time to five years and also allowed registration of titles still within their first 28 years (this is what allowed the Abbott & Costello Show first season to exit the public-domain market [remember all the 16mm dupes available?] and become registered, inasmuch as the 1951-52 shows were still a little shy of the 28-year mark), but I don't know that properties older than 28 years have ever been accorded registration privileges. (Of course, these restrictions don't apply to foreign works inasmuch as the U.S. will recognize whatever copyright is afforded by a GATT nation.)

David Hayes


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