Author Topic: Need help finding 100% public domain films. No guessing!  (Read 907 times)

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Offline superfierostatus

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Need help finding 100% public domain films. No guessing!
« on: September 30, 2014, 09:50:55 PM »
So I'm trying to put together a list of public domain films for use at a friend's business. We want to run a recurring b-movie night, and don't want to have to pay for a public performance licence. So I've done a bunch of research and I'm coming up with a lot of fuzzy data. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is public domain. Yay! But I've read that that doesn't mean what you might think. Yes, if you wanted to adapt that movie into a book, play, or interpretive dance you'd be free to, but apparently someone might still own the rights to screen it. How you find that out is beyond me. Take our beloved Space Mutiny, for example. Who the hell owns that? I can't figure it out. Echo Bridge Home Entertainment put out a DVD that was supposedly just a rip from a VHS but do they own it? Or did they just release a version? Do they own the intellectual property or do they own just that one release of it? I've sent an email to Echo Bridge, so we'll see where that leads.

I know this may be over the heads of most (all?) of you, but if anyone knows anything about how to properly identify public domain films that would really help us. Thanks!


Offline Relaxing Dragon

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Re: Need help finding 100% public domain films. No guessing!
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 10:52:32 PM »
Bam!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_in_the_public_domain_in_the_United_States

Everything here should meet the criteria you're after. It sounds like a cool idea!


Offline goflyblind

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Re: Need help finding 100% public domain films. No guessing!
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2014, 04:29:56 AM »
you should try this movie about dinosaurs, it's probably okay: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107290
dF = 0
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Offline Compound

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Re: Need help finding 100% public domain films. No guessing!
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2014, 01:14:47 PM »
You might want to try archive.org  https://archive.org/details/moviesandfilms


Their stuff tends to fall under the "completely in the public domain" category. Failing that, you might want to contact someone at a local university's film department. They may be able to give you some more practical info, since they'll often be screening films themselves.


(Wow. That was unreadable. Edited for clarity.)
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 05:52:06 PM by Compound »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: Need help finding 100% public domain films. No guessing!
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2014, 04:51:16 PM »
Here is another thing you may want to consider. Just because a movie is PD does not mean the print is PD. What does that mean? Well, lets say a film was allowed to go PD by it's studio or producer. Perhaps the movie was once shown on television. While the movie is PD, the edited television version may still be copyrighted by the t.v. distributor. The same thing goes for films on VHS. Most of the films released in the early days of home video were PD. But even though they were PD, the copy put out on VHS is copyrighted to the video company that released it. This is the case with the cartoon Gulliver's Travels. The company that originally released it on home video put a watermark on the film. Basically a caption that had their company name and copyright. This prevented other video companies from using their VHS as the master for their release.

Another situation is with old films, particularly silent movies, that need restoration. The company or person who restored the film owns the copyright to the restored print. This was the case with Buster Keaton's "Hard Luck". For years the movie was incomplete as the only existing print was missing the ending. In 2004 a film historian found a complete but murky copy of the movie in Russia and spliced the missing ending onto the American print. This fully restored version was released as part of the collection "Keaton Plus" along with a lot of his 60s industrial films and television commercials. A year later Keno Video wanted to release the entire Buster Keaton library, but was not given permission to use the restored "Hard Luck" print, even though they were the same home video company that released "Keaton Plus". The copyright to the restored print was still owned by the film historian, even though the film itself was PD


Offline superfierostatus

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Re: Need help finding 100% public domain films. No guessing!
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2014, 10:41:06 AM »
Good point. Hm...this may be more difficult than I had imagined. I've contacted 3 distribution companies over the past 10 days and nobody had gotten back to me either.