Re: copyright?

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: alt.movies.silent
Date: Saturday, September 26, 1998 11:12 AM

Joseph Christina wrote in message <>…
>Thought I'd throw a little second-hand anidote here that may be
>relevant. About 2 years ago, I did a bunch of sound wavs that I donated
>to a Humphrey Bogart site. The owner maintained that he was forced to
>take some material down after Turner Entertainment e-mailed him with
>ominous warnings about copyright infringement. Another friend related
>to me a similar incident; apparently Turner balked at the use of King
>Kong stills at a website. (though I don't know in what context) I have
>no personal knowledge of these incidents, but it sounds consistent with
>what I've heard about TCM.

The operator of a Betty Boop site had the same experience. About two years ago, I made my only visit to the pertinent URL, where I found a one-screen apology stating that the site could no longer be displayed because the lawyers of King Features Syndicate had given the site notice that the presence of images of the trademarked Boop, Grampy, et al., characters constituted an unauthorized use of the KFS property. The statement went on to say that the people at Hearst/King Features had been impressed with the quality and design of the site, that it had been a tribute to the character. Alas, the legal minds could not allow a precedent to be created. The operator said that he subsequently asked for authorization to display the images, to retroactively make it legal, but unfortunately the window of opportunity had passed.

Anyway, this discussion of precedents and authorization seems to indicate what is important to the copyright and trademark holders.

>Another question; what if the picture in question is not an original?
>I'm thinking of the numerous pics in film books. The pics are in the
>public domain, but they're being published in a copyrighted work. Are
>they then protected? Or would the person need to scan an "original" of
>the picture?

Speaking as someone who has learned about such things but is not giving legal advice:

If the author/designer of the book crops the photograph, alters it by superimposing other material upon it, or alters it in any other material way, then it could be said that the photograph has become a new work and is protected by the separate copyright of the book. If it is a straight presentation of the original, then the answer is that there is no separate protection. The copyright brochure of the Copyright Office discusses this, saying (I'm going from memory) that the alteration may not be merely technical. Thus, the fact that the reproduction of a photograph in a book introduces a half-tone pattern upon the original should not constitute grounds for claim of new copyright. Also, minor cropping that does not materially alter what is the focus of the image and which most anyone would introduce into the photograph anyway, should be not sufficiently material to warrant claim of new copyright. (Almost everyone who copies a pre-widescreen public-domain film to videotape crops the edges ever so slightly. However, the first company to do this does not then secure the right to be the only company to sliver the edges to those proportions.)

David Hayes


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