Oksana Dykyj (
Tue, 28 Jan 1997 16:40:07 +0000 (HELP)

>Deb Cady wrote:
>As I understand it, this depends on copyright issues in each country.

That's correct: what is PD in the U.S. is not necessarily so in Canada and
vice versa. In reference to POTEMKIN, CALIGARI et al., many foreign films
released in the U.S. were either never registered or never renewed there.
But, NAFTA and GATT legislation has had an impact in restoring copyright to
a number of post-1920 foreign films.

Also, remember, many silent films on video have new titles, added music,
color tinting and/or restoration which would allow a copyright owner to
copyright the "new material" contained in the video version of the film.

>For example, the films of director Frank Capra are public domain since the
>copyright was never renewed.

I believe the reference here is to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE which had been in
the Public Domain for a number of years until Republic Pictures have, a
couple of years ago, successfully claimed an exclusive copyright to the film
based on underlying story and/or music rights. Perhaps you might recall not
seeing it anywhere but on NBC these past two Christmases? I would be
surprised if other Capras are PD.

Most silents, therfore, are
>public domain. The only ones you might have to be careful off are titles
>by people like Mary Pickford, Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Sr, etc as they
>were pretty savvy about retaining copyright personnaly and may have
>transferred those rights to their heirs.
Remember that there are bills under consideration in Congress that will
extend the U.S. copyright term for pre-1978 films from 75 to 95 years...


>hope this helps
>deb cady
>> Hello Jessica,
>> You mentioned a while back that certain films such as Cabinet of
>> Caligari, Nosferatu and Potemkin are in the Public Domain. What
>> exactly does this mean? If films are in the PD does it automatically
>> give them Public Performance rights anywhere in the world?
>> Anne Roney
>> Video Librarian, London Public Library
>> London Ontario Canada
Oksana Dykyj Tel: 514-848-3443
Head, Visual Media Resources Fax: 514-848-3441
Audio-Visual Department H-342 Email:
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve West
Montreal, QC, H3G 1M8