How to be sure a video is in the public domain?

by Sisqo
11 replies
Hi,
I would like to use some videos I found on archive.org. I suppose that everything that's on that website is in the pubblic domain for sure, righ? Or I'd better run further checks?

thanks in advance
#domain #public #video
  • Profile picture of the author Alex Athey
    When it comes to copyright laws online, tread with care. I took a gander at archive.org's terms of service page, and this part would give me pause:

    The Internet Archive respects the intellectual property rights and other proprietary rights of others. The Internet Archive may, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, remove certain content or disable access to content that appears to infringe the copyright or other intellectual property rights of others. If you believe that your copyright has been violated by material available through the Internet Archive, please provide the Internet Archive Copyright Agent with the following information:
    I take this to mean that they don't monitor the legal status of what's posted to their site and will revoke anything for which they receive a copyright violation notice. In other words, the burden is on you to decide if a particular video is licensed for use. In your case, I'd take whatever video I was considering using and research it, and find out who the current copyright holder is and what their rules are.

    Reading legalise isn't fun, but a good habit to get into if you want to avoid trouble with cease & desists letters in the future.
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    • Profile picture of the author Sisqo
      Originally Posted by Alex Athey View Post

      When it comes to copyright laws online, tread with care. I took a gander at archive.org's terms of service page, and this part would give me pause:



      I take this to mean that they don't monitor the legal status of what's posted to their site and will revoke anything for which they receive a copyright violation notice. In other words, the burden is on you to decide if a particular video is licensed for use. In your case, I'd take whatever video I was considering using and research it, and find out who the current copyright holder is and what their rules are.

      Reading legalise isn't fun, but a good habit to get into if you want to avoid trouble with cease & desists letters in the future.
      Thank you for your reply. Since it's really hard to come to know if a video is copyrighted or not, I think I should abandon the idea of using those videos. For example, let's take a cartoon, tom & gerry.

      https://archive.org/details/TomAndJe...eforeChristmas

      How the hell do I come to know if it's really in the the pubblic domain or not
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      • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
        Originally Posted by Sisqo View Post

        Thank you for your reply. Since it's really hard to come to know if a video is copyrighted or not, I think I should abandon the idea of using those videos. For example, let's take a cartoon, tom & gerry.

        https://archive.org/details/TomAndJe...eforeChristmas

        How the hell do I come to know if it's really in the the pubblic domain or not
        First, every piece of intellectual property that's ever been
        proiduced is copyrighted. No need to wonder about that.

        The problem, as you say, is determining who currently owns
        the rights and if the property may be used without fear of legal
        repercussions.

        That requires painstaking research and often additional legal advice.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    In the case of the Tom and Jerry cartoon it appears that
    copyrights and trademarks are owned by the Cartoon Network.
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      Just about the only videos that are in the public domain are those created by the US government or those whose makers have explicitly specified as being in the public domain. That is relatively few videos. (I am not counting classic films, some of which are old enough that copyright has expired.)

      You'd better assume that all the videos you are looking at are covered by copyright, because they most likely are.

      When in doubt, ask permission. The stakes are too high to flub this.

      Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author melprise
    Traditionally, 'copyright' was only about a government giving temporary and local exclusive distribution rights to publishers and exhibitors over intellectual materials. It was not a right, but more of a government subsidy or privilege. All said copyrighted material was to automatically pass into the public domain in 14 years, which was later stretched out to a maximum of 75 years if the copyright was extended. It was NEVER supposed to have perpetual or universal, permanent status.

    What is being talked about nowadays is the current corporate nonsense of perpetual copyright, where basically nothing ever naturally passes into the public domain, a notion all governments are supposed to equally and without limit enforce. Even given this modern mindset, the laws still specify a limit of 75 maximum years for copyright (Disney had to lobby for a special exception to get an extension for its early creations like Mickey Mouse).

    So many videos from the early 1930's at least, should be public domain, even as a matter of law. Just to be sure, research the matter with an expert, who may be aware of which party is aggressively litigating any 1930's copyright claims at this point.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Originally Posted by Sisqo View Post

    Hi,
    I would like to use some videos I found on archive.org. I suppose that everything that's on that website is in the pubblic domain for sure, righ? Or I'd better run further checks?

    thanks in advance
    Not everything on Archive.org is in the public domain. Some videos are GPL, etc. You need to read the license for each video and some don't post the license.

    There are other concerns too, such as the music in a public domain movie may still be protected under copyright law or the electronic version may be protected by copyrights.

    But there's a number of great resources that are in the public domain, such as Betty Boop, Popeye, etc. Do some due diligence (aka Google) for more info...Doing a little research, it seems the original Tom and Jerry characters are in the public domain. However, they aren't the cat and mouse characters that we may think of them as.

    For starters, do a search for "public domain" at Archive.org's "Moving Image Archive" for some ideas:
    https://archive.org/details/movies

    I did a search for:
    public domain + "tom and jerry"

    ...and this cartoon came up...as you can see, these are the original Tom and Jerry characters and not the cat and mouse:
    https://archive.org/details/cco_TomandJerryPianoTooners
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  • Profile picture of the author krsnayathi
    Thank you Kurt. That was useful.
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    • Profile picture of the author ddpromo1
      I'll tell you what continues to baffle me, is the amount of videos on youtube, that are downloaded from TV and streaming sources, repackaged and uploaded to Youtube, knowing fully, the uploader didn't get permission from author/producer/distributor/creator.

      Take for example: I was watching NFL highlights of my favorite football team. Video was poor quality, but, I could of swore, that the announcer states before or after the games, says, "Any portion of this broadcast, is protect by the National Football League and cannot be aired without the written permission of it's owners and providers. " (paraphrasing)

      I was watching full episodes of sitcoms the other day on Youtube and they weren't uploaded by Warner Bros or Paramount.

      Bottom line, I don't think anybody cares (i.e.,writers, producers,distributors, NFL), if so, these videos would be deleted by Youtube and uploader would be fined for copyright infringement.
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      • Profile picture of the author ForumGuru
        Banned
        Originally Posted by ddpromo1 View Post

        Bottom line, I don't think anybody cares (i.e.,writers, producers,distributors, NFL), if so, these videos would be deleted by Youtube and uploader would be fined for copyright infringement.
        YouTube deletes tons of videos on a daily basis for copyright infringement, and yes the NFL and others do care but they can't catch them all. If the NFL did not care you would find all of the full games on YT all of the time.

        Another thing to consider is fair use doctrine as some video that is copyrighted can be used for fair use purposes and a fair amount of the video that you see on YT falls under this category.

        Fining someone for infringement is another story...it's almost impossible to track down every infringer, identify them, serve them proper notice, and then make them pay a fine.

        Cheers.

        -don
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve B
        Originally Posted by ddpromo1 View Post

        Bottom line, I don't think anybody cares (i.e.,writers, producers,distributors, NFL), if so, these videos would be deleted by Youtube and uploader would be fined for copyright infringement.

        Dave,

        Unauthorized use of videos, images, and other content online is so rampant that the "borrowers" think they will never be called out or identified. When it does happen, these same folks think that they can somehow avoid a law suit and any financial entanglement.

        That's no way to run a professional business, looking over your shoulder for signs of trouble on the horizon. It's so much easier and less stressful just licensing a product and abiding by the terms.

        Steve
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