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Author Topic: Marketing, and special shows
J-sun Bailey
Film Handler

Posts: 12
From: Fairfield, Maine, USA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted 12-09-2013 02:20 PM      Profile for J-sun Bailey   Email J-sun Bailey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So I've got a few questions about if you can actually do some things for public audiences.

1. If we wanted to show a holiday classic such as It's a wonderful life, I don't think that we could do this using a DVD or Blu-ray and charge for it. But could we make it a free show, or even take in donations of food for a local food bank as a suggested admission?

2. Kind of along the same idea, could we have a free Oscars showing, again no one pays to get in, we can sell concessions, and show the Oscars.

Just curious if anyone else does this, and what the general consensus is about this sort of show.

Thanks.

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Michael Riley
Film Handler

Posts: 52
From: New Jersey
Registered: Apr 2010


 - posted 12-09-2013 08:54 PM      Profile for Michael Riley   Email Michael Riley       Edit/Delete Post 
Isn't It's a Wonderful Life Public Domain? Even if the film is, the movie studio still owns the rights to the DVD or Blu Ray, so you would need a license for a public screening. The Oscars would almost certainly be a definite no.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-09-2013 08:58 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You could probably do "It's A Wonderful Life" and "get away" with it, but the Oscars movies are all owned by their respective studios. Read the "FBI" notice that pops up before the BluRay will play... it says "licensed for private exhibition in homes." If you want to show it for the public, even for free, you need to pay the rental.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2253
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 12-09-2013 11:42 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My understanding is "It's a Wonderful Life" is no longer in the public domain and Paramount has rights to the film. In fact, there is a DCP available through Technicolor. Licensing the film will probably cost $250-$400, and the same is likely to apply if you use a BluRay, so you might as well get the DCP.

I'm not sure what the official rules are about showing broadcast events like The Oscars. I know there are licensing rules with professional sports and other such content, and NATO is actually trying to work out some sort of a program which would allow theatres to show games.

Showing any current movie for free or discount admission would probably come down to what the studio's terms are, and whether the movie was considered a current release.

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Chris Slycord
Film God

Posts: 2986
From: 퍼항시, 경상푹도, South Korea
Registered: Mar 2007


 - posted 12-09-2013 11:57 PM      Profile for Chris Slycord   Email Chris Slycord   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
According to wikipedia, the images of the movie are in public domain but the story is a derivative work of the story "The Greatest Gift" which is still copyrighted.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2481
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-10-2013 08:24 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's A Wonderful Life IS owned by Paramount and as Justin said you will have to pay for it whether you charge admission or not. We've shown it the last 4 years on BluRay. Next year, probably have the DCP, though the film is usually booked up months in advance and a bluray looks ok in B&W. We charge our usual admission and do very well for a one night screening.

As for the Oscars, they have just handed down a new missive. They used to allow a small number of theatres to host official Oscar parties. This year they are not allowing any as they reconsider their branding (I suspect they are going to license the parties to a group like Fathom). You can have Oscar watching parties IF:
a) you do not mention Oscar or Academy Awards in ANY of your advertising and publicity
b) you clear it with your local ABC affiliate (which means you will not be able to charge admission).

These questions come up frequently and I wish we had some sort of FAQ, but the short version is: Anything you show to the public you have to pay for, whether you charge admission or not. There are exceptions, but you have to work them out with the rights holders.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5305
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 12-10-2013 05:59 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There used to be a strict rule of thumb that came out of the early copyright law which held that once a work went into the Public Domain, it BELONGED TO THE PUBLIC and Federal monopolistic protection for the exclusive use of the author was lifted -- i.e., no more copyright protection; the copyright was absens in perpetuum or lost forever. You couldn't "undo" Public Domain from a work. This is why when the copyright was not renewed by a studio or even if the proper copyright insigna was not properly displayed on the work, that was it; no copyright protection from then on out. It was a mistake that unrecoverable.

Seems that Paramount has figured out a way to turn that concept on its ear. More manipulation of the system to favor the conglomerats. Every time a copyright is about to run out, the Hollywood lobbyists trot off to congress with their wheelbarrels full of money and wine and nubile young hookers and hustlers -- whatever it takes -- and they get the law changed so that those about-to-become-Public-Domain titles get extended for decades, or in the case of the last round of changes to the rules in the middle of the game, to "the life of the author plus 100 years." So, what's the "life" of 20th Century Fox, or Viacom?

As for IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, a good friend of mine is a copyright lawyer and she strongly believes that the grounds upon which Paramount "reversed" the Public Domain status of that title is on very shakey legal grounds; it wasn't a court decision, but just a statement Paramount holds that IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is still under copyright and no longer in Public Domain. She said no one dares challenges it; on one is willing to go to court over it. Like almost all copyright battles, the cost factor almost always favors the conglomerate, not the single theatre who wants to show the title, or even say a small BluRay company that might want to release it on their own label. How much would a down and dirty dragged out court fight with the likes of Paramount cost compaired to how much profit that theatre or disc manufacture make be able to clear on such a title. They would lose their shirts and they know it, so no one takes up the gauntlette and unfortunately it winds up, Bully 1, Public 0.

It's like the Chaplin family who make outragious claims that all his early films are still in copyright and under their ownership, many of which they refuses to allow to be shown and they will come after anyone would dare to try to circumvent their control. It's like dealing with a pack of rabid wolves.

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Chris Slycord
Film God

Posts: 2986
From: 퍼항시, 경상푹도, South Korea
Registered: Mar 2007


 - posted 12-11-2013 11:10 AM      Profile for Chris Slycord   Email Chris Slycord   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Frank Angel
As for IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, a good friend of mine is a copyright lawyer and she strongly believes that the grounds upon which Paramount "reversed" the Public Domain status of that title is on very shakey legal grounds; it wasn't a court decision, but just a statement Paramount holds that IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is still under copyright and no longer in Public Domain. She said no one dares challenges it; on one is willing to go to court over it.
The statement enforcing their copyright relied on a Supreme Court ruling that the successor to a copyright holder is allowed to enforce that copyright against works derived from it. So to say it's on entirely shaky grounds and that it was merely a statement is a bit misleading, especially coming from a supposed attorney.

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Mitchell Dvoskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1869
From: West Milford, NJ, USA
Registered: Jan 2001


 - posted 12-17-2013 10:09 AM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paramount claims copyright on It's A Wonderful Life because they purchased the underlying rights to the novel upon which it was based.

This is the same Paramount that forgot to copyright the first season of Star Trek (original series). They eventually were able to stop unauthorized video releases because the owned the copyrighted background music.

Whether the owner of underlying rights can block unauthorized use of a public domain work has never fully been resolved by either congress, which left this vague, or the courts. It's kind of a lose/lose situation for a challenger in that if they win the court case, they will have spent thousands of dollars on lawyers so that not only they, but everyone else can profit off the work. If they lose the court case, they will have spent thousands of dollars for lawyers plus the infringement fines.

Note: I am not a lawyer, and nothing in the post should be construed as legal opinion.

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Timothy Eiler
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 126
From: Litchfield , Minnesota, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 01-05-2014 09:06 AM      Profile for Timothy Eiler   Author's Homepage   Email Timothy Eiler   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Frank Angel
Like almost all copyright battles, the cost factor almost always favors the conglomerate, not the single theatre who wants to show the title, or even say a small BluRay company that might want to release it on their own label.
Like a banker told me years ago

"He who has the gold makes the rules"

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