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Public Domain Question

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Aaron Cadieux
Public Domain Question
on Jun 7, 2011 at 3:05:13 pm

If one buys a DVD of a movie that is in the public domain, does the company that transfered the film for THAT copy of the DVD own the rights to the content on that DVD? In other words, I know they don't own the copyright to the film itself, but does THEIR copy of the DVD fall under copyright as an artistic work derrived from a public domain source? Even if they don't make any artistic "changes" to the DVD? Thanks.

-Aaron



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Mark Suszko
Re: Public Domain Question
on Jun 7, 2011 at 3:28:26 pm

I am not a lawyer, but that's how I read and understand the law. You'd be copying, not the original, but someone else's work containing the original. A fine distinction, to be sure. Still, if you are asked in court where you got the footage, you need to be able to say you got it the same place the DVD producer got it.. Can you document that? If not, the DVD producer can say you're pirating his version of it.


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Richard Herd
Re: Public Domain Question
on Jun 8, 2011 at 7:52:02 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "If one buys a DVD of a movie that is in the public domain, does the company that transfered the film for THAT copy of the DVD own the rights to the content on that DVD?"

There's too many possible scenarios here to answer with only "yes" or "no." Generally speaking, there is no such thing as a work of art in the public domain. That is, the author of the work owns the copyright. Let me also mention that a ripped DVD is not public domain.

[Aaron Cadieux] " In other words, I know they don't own the copyright to the film itself, but does THEIR copy of the DVD fall under copyright as an artistic work derrived from a public domain source?"

No. A license agreement between the copyright holder and distributor, publisher, and or exhibitor includes distribution rights, royalties, marketing and advertising rights, and -- of course! -- a fee schedule. Because authoring a DVD is a derivative work, the DVD author would need this license agreement from the copyright holder. Make sense? But the DVD author does not hold the copyright to the DVD. Weird stuff, here.


[Aaron Cadieux] " Even if they don't make any artistic "changes" to the DVD? Thanks"

Yes.

Anyway, some specifics are needed to really answer your question, and of course-- Ask an attorney!


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Aaron Cadieux
Re: Public Domain Question
on Jun 12, 2011 at 2:20:43 pm

Actually any artistic work created before 1924 is automatically in the public domain. No exceptions.



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Aaron Cadieux
Re: Public Domain Question
on Jun 12, 2011 at 2:23:08 pm

Also, any work created by the US government (I.e. NASA) is in the public domain.



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