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Ask Robert McEwen, Esq. Your Own Question
Robert McEwen, Esq.
Robert McEwen, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 16054
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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My film was presented at film festivals in 1962. I do not want

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My film was presented at film festivals in 1962. I do not want it to fall into the public domain. I am reasonably certain that no copyright was ever formally applied for. Do I have to apply for one? Is it possible to do so now?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

If the movie did not have a copyright notice on it (at the beginning) then it would be in the public domain. This actually happened to "Night of the Living Dead", where the film lost any protection that it would have had because of the failure to include a copyright notice on it. So if you never included any notice on the film itself, it would be public domain.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

THAT BEING SAID, while the original film is public domain, if you have sole possession of the film (and it's not being produced), you can remaster the film (sound, etc...) and release it again in a remastered format, get THAT copyrighted, and since the original would not be out there, it would be as if you copyrighted that original...

RobertMcEwenEsq :

(in a roundabout way)

RobertMcEwenEsq :

A remastered form of a public domain work is copyrightable.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

And like I said, if you're the only one in possession of that work, even though it's public domain, you have sole control over it, and so long as you don't release that original one, but the remastered version, then the only one that would actually be in the public would be the copyright one.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

Customer:

How does the following info. affect the copyright: The film is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NY, the New York Public Library, and The Walker Gallery in Mineapolis.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

If you never copyrighted it at the beginning, it's not. Works between 1923 and 1977 that are published without a copyright notice are public domain. But as such, you can remaster that and get a new copyright.

Customer:

Would producing a Digital Copy of the film on to a DVD constitute a remastering having been achieved? Than I would copyright the DVD?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

No. You would need to change the creative elements (even putting the audio / visual elements through filters, etc... to sharpen them, etc... would be enough) but merely translating them to a different form of media would not be enough since it doesn't really change the creative elements.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

If there's nothing else, please rate this answer so that it will close out and allow me to assist the other customers that are waiting. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response or rating...

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?

Customer:

When applying for copyright does the Copyright symbol have to be visible on the new master and where? Last question; Does making a digital copy of the original film constitute a remastering?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Not in the new one. Since 1977 you don't have to publish it with a copyright notice.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Like I said about the DVD, simply a copy translated to some new form of media is not enough. There has to be a modification of the creative elements.

RobertMcEwenEsq :


If there's nothing else, please rate this answer so that it will close out and allow me to assist the other customers that are waiting. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time (>30 mintutes) and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!



RobertMcEwenEsq :

*minutes

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Was there anything else?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

(please note that this question is open until you rate it, so if there's nothing else, please rate it so it will close out and allow me to assist other customers that are waiting for answers to their questions)

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response.

Customer:

I did not hear from you. I asked 2 last questions with no reply?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

I answered them, but I guess they did not go through...

RobertMcEwenEsq :


RobertMcEwenEsq says:

1:39 PM



Not in the new one. Since 1977 you don't have to publish it with a copyright notice.






1:40 PM



Like I said about the DVD, simply a copy translated to some new form of media is not enough. There has to be a modification of the creative elements.



RobertMcEwenEsq :

Did you see that?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

(I assume the 2 follow up questions were the ones that you said the last one was the last one, correct?)

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Can you see that response?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Hello?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Are you there?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Can you see my responses?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Or are we having technical difficulties?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

You may need to scroll up or down to see the answer.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Please respond. I am patiently waiting, but there are other customers that are awaiting an answer to their questions, and I only get credit for questions answered AND accepted, not how long I spend on a question.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

For some reason I think that we're having trouble communicating. I am going to switch to Q&A so that we can communicate further. Please refresh this page (F5 or the refresh button) in about 30 seconds to see the change).

Robert McEwen, Esq. and 2 other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
I have switched to Q&A so that we can finish up. I hope you can see my responses and that I responded as soon as you asked them.

If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time (45 minutes) and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

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