Australian/US film copyright questions

satu largi:

Yeah Kazaa is a bigger story at the moment though I was giving an example which involved some students.

I’m just trying to reach a small fraction of the audience so that perhaps thousands of people will begin to question copyright durations and that could lead to some of them talking to others and writing related articles…

Becoming famous wouldn’t be my aim - the aim would be to raise awareness about the extent of copyright durations and the trend for them to be continually extended.


Remember that I’m in Australia and massive companies like Disney and maybe AOL Time Warner would be involved. I guess they’d send me a warning letter first or try and settle out of court… but it would be rarely for people to take them to court.
Here’s a new idea about the old cartoons… I could make multiple versions of them… firstly there would be near-DVD quality copies of the original DVD video… then me (and maybe others - maybe I’ll have a competition) could add new soundtracks and modify the video. I could even master my own DVD’s where you can select different audio tracks for the video (perhaps even non-english languages!). I could throw together a main menu and try not to infringe any trademarks. (I’d just be breaking copyright laws).

A second infringement offense would be one you committed after you were convicted of a first infringement offense.

I admire your vision, but an extra 30 years has made me, not wiser, but perhaps more cynical about just worthwhile the effort would be. Rather than attack the dinosaur head on, why not just sneak around the back and steal it’s eggs?

Copyright terms were set with the intention that the author and his children should benefit from the works for the remainder of their lives. In 1900, the average life expectancy for a U.S. male at birth was 48 years, due mainly to high rates of infant mortality and childhood diseases. In 2000, the average life expectancy of a U.S. male at birth was 75 years.

JohnClay, check my location and stop thinking I am not familiar with local circumstances.

BTW, I found out that at least 10 Disney videos are public domain:
They include the 1964 colour documentary the “Wonderful World Of Color”.

Also, according to this link, a major computer book publisher is promising to limit its copyrights to 14 years + 1 possible 14 year extension rather than life + 70 years (or 95 years for corporations).,aid,110419,00.asp

satu largi:

What do you mean? Do you mean copying all their stuff just like many others do, and hope that in the future copying becomes legal due to it being so widespread? Or just copying old stuff without trying to get caught? The thing about confronting them is at least I can be prepared rather than worrying about random attacks by copyright owners (e.g. the RIAA). I’ll try and be cautious about this but my outlook on life is different from most people…


Well the Australian copyright act in the late 1960’s (see my first post) only meant copyright lasted for 50 years or life + years and life expectancies were probably higher than 50 years then. I haven’t heard of any real pressure for copyrights in Australia to be extended, except because of the US/Australian free-trade agreement. The Berne convention only talks about life + 50 years (as far as I know) and that seems to be from 1971. So it doesn’t seem necessary that copyright must last for as long as the children live. Just because some legislation had that intention it doesn’t mean it must always be the case. In about 1790 copyright only lasted for 14 years plus a 14 year extension… so they had different ideas back then. And why should copyrights last so much longer than patents (which last 14 or 20 years)? By the way, in the U.S, copyright currently lasts for 75 years AFTER the death of the author. The average author would have kids at the age of 30 and create something at the age of 30. (give or take a few years) And they might die at the age of 75. This means their kid is 45 when the parent has died. 70 years later (when copyright expires), the kid would be 115. But since the average age is 75, the average kid would die leaving 40 years of copyright remaining. If that kid had had kids at the age of 30, that grandkid would die with 10 years of copyright remaining, passing it on to middle-aged great-grand-kids. IF copyright hadn’t been extended at all during that time then it would finally expire. So 75 years after the death of the author usually involves the life and death of a few descendents (not just the kids). An exception would be if an author had kids and died in quick succession… if the kids lived to be 80 then the copyright would (theoretically) expire in their lifetime.

I think even 30 years is enough time for kids of dead copyright owners to get their own job. They don’t need a pension due to their monopoly on some information - most people get along well without it.

I see… :slight_smile: I guess I should have expected some Aussies show up due to the title… well anyway, perhaps it is true that “people are going to care more about a dog up a tree than …[my]… hijinks” but hopefully, depending on how I handle this, it could still register on the news and have a few thousand people read through it and some be a bit influenced by me.

I guess what’s really funny, well, ironic, about all this is that there already is a huge discussion of copyright and copyright extension everywhere in the world - including Australia - and JohnClay is seemingly not aware that it is happening.

And re: the latter: Google Lawrence Lessig for more on his fight against copyright.

Those Disney films fall into four categories: silent cartoons he made in the 1920s before Mickey Mouse (the Alice in Cartoonland shorts and Four Musicians of Bremen); U.S.-government sponsored propoganda work that he made for the war effort (Spirit of '43) that was deliberately in the public domain; and three sound-era cartoons whose copyrights Disney neglected to renew. However, caution is necessary; for instance, while Disney failed to renew the copyright on Hooked Bear, they did register and renew the copyright of the music score. Good luck separating the score from the cartoon.

I’m not sure what that Wonderful World of Color (1964) is about; Disney’s weekly television series was titled Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color from 1961 to 1969. Any work released in the U.S. after 1963 displaying a proper copyright notice is still under copyright, no renewal necessary.

The copyright term is actually 70 years after the death of the author. But, for works made for hire (the vast majority of movies and television shows), the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.

Exapno Mapcase:
I’m aware that there are many people opposed to copyright extension throughout the world and in Australia… but they would make up maybe 1% of the population and for most of those people, it might be such a low priority that it would be easy for copyrights to continue to be extended in the future. Most people probably wouldn’t be aware of the ongoing tradition of copyrights being extended on existing works and the implications of that.
I’m aware of the EFA… I recently wrote a letter in response to their magazine article which they called “When copyright is copywrong”. The article mostly talked about how there is no legal copying for personal use in Australia and that using VCR’s to record TV is technically illegal. Your link didn’t seem to mention copyright extension. These days people are mostly interested in DRM and DMCA (which are also important of course but I’ll let others worry about that).
I downloaded the article mentioned in slashdot months ago and searched across the internet for a pro-consumer look at the issues. Lessig had written about the biggest criticism of it, which was just a bunch of notes. I have emailed him a few times and asked if he could spend some more time on it so I would have something better to send to the politicians, but he said he isn’t Australian and he doesn’t think he should get involved. I emailed the CLRC which is an advisory body for the government’s copyright legislation but they haven’t reviewed the report because the government hasn’t asked them to. BTW, the report was funded by copyright owners who would have a lot to gain by it being positive, and coincidently, the report is positive. (Lessig points out many problems with the report though) The ACCC, which is a government pro-consumer organisation, says that they don’t deal with legislation issues like copyright extension. So I emailed lots of politicians and told them about Lessig’s criticisms of the report and the reason why there haven’t been other substantial criticisms.
Unfortunately I hadn’t been aware of ALIA at that time, which would have been very good to know about since they’re Australians, and they represent many people. (unlike Lessig)

If those sites selling the videos say it’s public domain, then it should be… though anyway, it is irrelevant to my possible plans.
As far as copyright durations go, I got it right in my second post, (except I didn’t bother mentioning the 120 year rule). Perhaps I was confused by RealityChuck who said that the Berne convention involves durations of life + 75 years.

It may or may not be of interest, but:

About 2001, an Australian group (sorry, don’t remember their name) was distributing old Warner Bros cartoons which were still in US copyright. Their site claimed their actions were legal in Australia, as the Aussie copyright was limited to 50 years, and these shorts were more than 50 years old, ergo, in the public domain (at least in Oz).

You may wish to see if they are still in business, and, if not, what happened to them.

Note: Disney is even more vicious in prosecuting copyright/trademark infrignment than WB, which is saying something.

(The mouse house actually went after a local, one-woman bakery because she would draw Mickey and/or Minnie on a kid’s birthday cake)