Re: Silent Film Distributors - Duping vs Restoration

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: alt.movies.silent
Date: Friday, December 05, 1997 10:10 AM

I previously wrote:
> …I can tell you that the Supreme Court ruled earlier in this decade that
> telephone directories were not eligible for copyright because no creativity was
> involved in what the court saw as a mere compilation of factual information
> that was readily-accessible to the telephone companies.

ChaneyFan <> wrote in article
> The way most places have gotten around this is by inserting a bogus reference
> into their list of phones, films, whatever.

My recollection of the telephone-directories case was that phony entries did not constitute enough creativity, in the opinion of the Supreme Court.  The subject was brought up at the time, and did not stop the avalanche of CD-ROM telephone directories. Also on the subject of phony entries: the makers of the Trivial Pursuit board game were sued by the creators of a trivia book who realized that the questions and answers in the game had been duplicated from their work. The trivia-book people could point out instances of errors and oversights they had put into their publication, but the court nonetheless ruled that the use by Trivial Pursuit was permissible use of the information. Sad.

> Likewise, mailing lists usually include a bogus address to their own
> PO box so if someone copies the list they will get mailings to that box.

This is different. Compilers of mailing lists rent out their data with contracts stipulating that buyers are entitled to a limited number of uses. If the list-renter exceeds the usage he paid for, he can be sued for violation of contract, which is different from violation of copyright.  Incidentally, my understanding is that mailing-list-compilers usually put in several phony addresses, to dissuade users from gambling that if they mail to just half of the list that they'll have a 50% chance of avoiding detection. Mailing lists use as their phonies what seem to be genuine street addresses in cities far from their place of business; a phony name attached to a legitimate address can alert the recipient to misuse of the mailing list.

> The cards are clearly stacked in favor of someone who goes to the effort to
> create or restore a film…as well they should be.

I certainly sympathize with your position, Jon. I read your comments regarding restoration of "The Scarlet Car." I understand your investment, and I champion your efforts. If I should ever want to commercially use "The Scarlet Car," I know that my options are: (a) negotiate an arrangement with you, or (b) check out the out-of-order materials from the Library of Congress and the repository for the otherwise-missing reel, and to go through the effort of determining the proper sequence of the shots, and then to do the work and arrange for lab services; the latter would be an unnecessary repetition of your work, so you can see what I regard as the best decision.

Respectfully yours,

--David Hayes


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