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Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:28 am

I've not checked Eddy's links so apologies if this is already covered, but remember that copyright is territorial, so what's in the public domain in one country may not be in another.
Also because of various term extensions some stuff has gone into and then back out of the public domain. Depending on how well curated those lists are that kind of thing can be easily missed.

It's almost as if copyright has got out of control and divorced from its original purpose... ;)
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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby AJScott755 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:34 am

Thanks everyone

I knew I'd find what I needed here, going to check out those lists suggested above. I think rewriting and recording our own is the way forward.

:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby The Red Bladder » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:37 am

A great deal of misinformation here -

The original work is indeed out of copyright BUT you MUST have a copy of the original and take your audio from that and not from some more recent source that has been reworked and therefore has renewed the copyright. That means getting a copy of the original 35mm B&W film stock and having it rescanned.

It is for that reason that the various copyright holders of all works, written, recorded, filmed, videoed, whatever, remaster and rerelease works and do their best to replace old copies of the work with the better and restored copies. Beatles, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy all restored and reworked. If you use a recent copy of The Beatles, EMI will come after you. If you use a recent copy of Laurel & Hardy, Kirch Media will come after you. If you use a recent copy of Charlie Chaplin, MGM will come after you.

And now the knotty question of - Would they really go after some poor schmuck putting out a bit of music on a CD or on YouTube?

The answer is YES. They have to!

They have to, not because they are hard-hearted swine or because they have nothing better to do, but because otherwise the copyright really does fall into the public domain and anybody can then show a reworked and remastered movie and even broadcast the damn thing.

Under US law, undefended copyright becomes public domain property!

I own copyrights and every few years I rework the original material and put it out there for people to find. They can find it. They can listen, read or look at the material - but if they use it without our written permission, I descend upon them like a ton of bricks!

EDIT - The word 'use' means to include it or to reissue it in any form whatsoever. The manner or intention of the reuse or reissue does not matter. Charity fund-raising, free give-aways, charging almost nothing, use commercially - all that counts as commercial exploitation and is, therefore, injurious to the copyright owner.
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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:52 pm

I’m by no means an expert but I have worked on film and tv projects where "fair use" was justification for a number of seconds of inclusion. I’ve never understood what that was about. In the end though, I think it’s about who has the better lawyer.
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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby The Red Bladder » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:19 pm

'Fair use' is a US legal concept and is very much down to individual circumstances. For example, using a Chapin excerpt in an academic work about 1920s cinema is 'fair use' but using the same piece in a music video would bring down the wrath of the gods. You can also use parts of a copyright product for satire or other critical examination (e.g. film critic article) under the mantle of 'fair use' but exploitation within a commercial product (regardless of the status of the final method by which it is marketed) is not 'fair use'.

This is a HUGE subject and interlocks with other US legal concepts such as image rights that do not exist in the UK or most other countries. For example, you cannot use David Beckham's image on a product in the US because that infringes his image rights. You cannot use his face in the UK because it is registered as a trademark.

My favorite failed attempt at using the argument of 'fair use' was when a toilet seat manufacturer made a seat that exclaimed: "Here's Johnny!" when you lifted the lid. Carson sued and won and was magnificently paraded through Hollywood on a sedan-chair made of a lavatory seat and carried by eight pretty girls in bikinis.

In 'The Shining' the producers had to get Carson's permission.
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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby CS70 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:27 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:A great deal of misinformation here -

The original work is indeed out of copyright BUT you MUST have a copy of the original and take your audio from that and not from some more recent source that has been reworked and therefore has renewed the copyright.

Hm don't think there was any disinformation.. if it's a new reworked version of a work, it's no longer what is in the public domain - that is the original! Don't think many would think otherwise.

As for re-scanning - there's no need at all if you find someone's else scan and they are willing to give it to you. Scanning by itself doesn't create a new work (no more than copying a recording does). The websites listed by Martin appear to do just that: they transfer old film to digital format and provide the result free of charge.

Of course there's plenty sites which don't - and charge people for the work they've done.
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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:37 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:And now the knotty question of - Would they really go after some poor schmuck putting out a bit of music on a CD or on YouTube?

The answer is YES. They have to!

They have to, not because they are hard-hearted swine or because they have nothing better to do, but because otherwise the copyright really does fall into the public domain and anybody can then show a reworked and remastered movie and even broadcast the damn thing.

Under US law, undefended copyright becomes public domain property!
I'm sorry but I'd like to see a citation on this. Trademark yes, copyright no. Something only enters the public domain once the duration of the copyright has expired or because it has been deliberately assigned that way, not because it has been widely used.
There are a myriad of options available to the copyright holder to make their work as available or unavailable as they choose. From blanket Creative Commons By Accreditation to writing individual licences for specific uses for free to retaining all their rights and asking for millions of dollars.
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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby MOF » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:51 pm

Charlie Chaplin died in 1977 so add 70 years and then you can use his works, the ‘mechanical’ rights may have elapsed (?) but the ‘publishing’ aspect hasn’t.
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Re: Using Charlie Chaplin samples?

Postby The Red Bladder » Wed Feb 12, 2020 5:24 pm

CS70 wrote:Hm don't think there was any disinformation.. if it's a new reworked version of a work, it's no longer what is in the public domain - that is the original! Don't think many would think otherwise.
Unfortunately, they do! Many punters imagine that if they find a copy of a Chaplin film where the original was made in the 1920s, that copy they found somewhere must be in the public domain - it is not! It is a copy and as such is almost certainly watermarked and processed.

Old films will be put through a digital wetgate and the edits will be reworked and the timing altered and generally cleaned up. That revised version now has fresh copyright.

If push comes to shove and it ends up in court, the defendant will have to prove that they had access to the original or at least a copy that is out of copyright. The plaintiff merely has to show that in all probability, the defendant used a more recent copy for which the plaintiff owns the IP.

CS70 wrote:The websites listed by Martin appear to do just that: they transfer old film to digital format and provide the result free of charge.
It is proving that in all probability that is what was used that is the problem!

Leo Kirch bought up all the copyrights to nearly all Laurel & Hardy films back when they were still in copyright. He also made sure that there were as few 35mm copies of the films knocking about as possible by buying them up as well. He then had the originals lovingly restored and allowed a very few shorts to be broadcast to cover his costs. Yes, there are grot-versions with scratches and noise all over the place but these are taken from old 8mm and 16mm reels that were sold to the public and to film clubs after the war.

Today if you could find a 35mm original and get it cleaned up at your cost (or find a kind soul with a Cintel machine that does this for you) then you are good to go and you can safely ignore that 'cease and desist' letter!
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