Re: Re:shameful - a logo on the video release of Frankenstein

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: alt.movies.silent
Date: Saturday, December 27, 1997 11:39 PM

ChaneyFan wrote in message
>>>>In this case, the film is in the public domain; without the logo, other
>distributors could copy the film and sell it indiscriminately. With the logo,
>the owner of the print can sue folks who copy the film.
>Could David Pierce or David Hayes [sic](or some other copyright guru here) explain
>how the above can be true. How does adding a logo prevent someone from legally
>copying the film since the logo would not constitute a new artistic addition?

Others have commented on the Edison "Frankenstein" being in the public domain, so there's nothing I can add about that. A logo is a trademark, and a trademark may not be copied without the permission of the holder of that trademark where appearance of the trademark would be construed as an indicator that the copy of the work being sold was made by, or authorized by, the trademark owner. (Hence, news photos may include a Coca-Cola machine in the background as that is an incidental detail, one not implying endorsement by the soft-drink maker. A logo of a videotape maker on a videotape could legitimately be taken as meaning that the tape was made by the trademark holder and that defects are wholly those of that company.)

In seeing the "Frankenstein" short on video, I was struck by how, despite the efforts to "protect" the copy, that a duper willing to exert the effort could use computer macros to find the scrolling "Property of…" titles (which would be easy for a computer, as the superimposed letters are the same shape and size on every occurrence) and replace each pixel with whatever non-white shade was most recently in that location. The scroll could thus be removed. (Of course, the ghastly picture quality of the copy I saw--the result of shooting from a movie screen with a camcorder and then copying successive generations of it--still would render the end-result of computer-pixel-replacement unsatisfactory.)

A logo in the corner is easier to hide. You can't restore the lost picture area from a copy which doesn't have that area, but amateur equipment can stick a new logo (of the duper) atop the previous company's logo. I've seen instances similar to this on television news, where a local independent station used CNN coverage but blocked out the CNN logo with the station's own.

David Hayes


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