promotion image of download ymail app
Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 8 years ago

A long question about copyright law?

Do you know anything about public domain copyright?

I recently uploaded a video to Youtube on the assumption that it was in the public domain. The movie in question is Metropolis, 1925. The version I uploaded was unmodified and unedited.

I received 3 different copyright claims by three different companies. The first two dropped their claim when I provided proof that it was in the public domain. The third company claimed they brought the licence, and the movie was removed from the public domain on the 18th January 2012.

Here is a copy of the letter they sent me:

'You may be unaware that this film is not in the public domain.

Under the internationally recognized Uruguay Round Agreements Act (UARR) , a Notice of Intent to Enforce was filed by the Murnau Stiftung Weisbaden Germany the legal successor of UFA ( Germany) . The Notice was filed on August 30 1996 and recorded on July 2 1996 in Volume 8001 , Page 861 for this film . On May 9 , 2002 Kino International (a division of Kino Lorber, Inc.) signed a license Agreement with Transit Films Munich , the authorized sales agent for the Murnau Stiftung , to become the sole licensed distributor in North America for the film METROPOLIS in all media. This license Agreement has subsequently been extended through May 2016.

We must therefore ask that you immediately CEASE AND DESIST FROM ALL DISTRIBUTION OF ANY VERSION OF METROPOLIS BY WHATEVER MEANS including DVD and all digital /VOD or face criminal penalties for violation of the US Code Tile 17 sections 501 and 506

Most recently this has been supported by the Supreme Court of the United States, GOLAN ET AL. v. HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL, January 18, 2012 that upheld Congress's right to extend copyright protection to millions of books, films and musical compositions by foreign artists that once were free for public use.'

So that is the letter they sent to me. How does it hold up against:

'GOLAN Vs HOLDER (Golan Vs Gonzalez)

Along with other foreign-made works, the film's U.S. copyright was restored in 1998, but the court decision in Golan v. Holder ruled that action unconstitutional.

The position now is that "In the United States, that body of law includes the bedrock principle that works in the public domain remain in the public domain. Removing works from the public domain violated Plaintiffs’ vested First Amendment interests." Judge Babcock found that aspects of the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act, which brought some works whose copyright had lapsed back under copyright, thus violates the First Amendment.'

The exact same copy of the movie I uploaded is also available on which only publishes public domain content.

So who is right here?

Any help or knowledge would be greatly appreciated.


3 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Whos' right? They are. Probably. The case and opinion of J.Babcock that you cite was overturned on appeal to the 10th Circuit and that reversal was upheld by the US Supreme Ct. Congress has the power to reinstate copyrights for works already in the public domain.

    You have come across one of the many instances where US copyright law was more stringent than foreign countries' laws, prior to 1989, which was corrected in 1994 by enacting the URAA.

    That act, in fact, extends US copyright to certain foreign works that were previously public domain, assuming they had not already benefited from a full copyright term here or abroad as of 1994.

    For instance, if published in the USA in 1925 with copyright notice, it had to be renewed at the end of 28 years, i.e., sometime after Jan 1953 and before Jan 1, 1954. If that renewal was defective, the movie became PD at that time. According to Wikipedia, the US copyright did, in fact, expire in 1953, but that expiration was a US-based formality, inconsistent with the international treaty on copyrights. Therefore, this work was subject to "reinstatement" if its German copyright had not already expired.

    If German copyright duration, as of 1994, was 70 years after Fritz Lang's death (in 1976), then the 1925 and 1927 versions would have still been copyrighted there and thus their US copyrights are "restored". US copyright will thus expire the same time as the German copyright.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    3 years ago


    Source(s): End Times Prediction
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 8 years ago

    "The US Supreme Court held on January 18, 2012 that Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act does not exceed Congress's authority under the Copyright Clause, and the court affirmed the judgment of the lower court by 6-2 , with the opinion written by Justice Ginsburg. The practical effect of the decision is that works that were once free to use, such as Prokofiev 's Peter and the Wolf, are no longer in the Public Domain, with the result that if used, are now subject to use only with the permission of the copyright holder, such as in paid licensing rather than without compensation to the copyright holder."

    I copied the above quote from Wikipedia. Basically, the third company that made a claim is correct, insofar as Google Inc., which is the parent company of YouTube, is a U.S. corporation. Having said that, if you are in Australia (as you seem to be), those copyright terms are more likely to apply, and if they're shorter as I believe they are, you're in the clear.

    Source(s): Have Android, will Google. :)
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.