FMO takes copyright and other intellectual property rights very seriously. All videos added in our Data Base are distributed under Creative Commons Licence (Public Domain).
However, it is FMO's policy to expeditiously block access to or remove content that it believes in good faith may contain material that infringes the copyrights of third parties and remove and discontinue service to repeat offenders.
Procedure for Reporting Copyright Infringements:
If you believe that content residing on or accessible through the FMO website or service infringes your copyright, please send us a notice of claimed copyright infringement containing the following informations:
1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright that has been allegedly infringed;
2. Identification of works or materials being infringed;
3. Identification of the content that is claimed to be infringing including information regarding the location of the content that the copyright owner seeks to have removed, with sufficient detail so that FMO is capable of finding and verifying its existence;
4. Contact information about the notifier including address, telephone number and, if available, e-mail address;
5. A statement that the notifier has a good faith belief that the content is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
6. A statement made under penalty of perjury that the information provided is accurate and the notifying party is authorized to make the complaint on behalf of the copyright owner.
Once a complete and proper notice of claimed copyright infringement is received and FMO comes to believe in good faith that a video on the FMO website may contain material that infringes copyright :
It is FMO policy:
1. to remove or disable access to the content identified in the notice of claimed infringement;
2. to notify the content provider, member or user that it has removed or disabled access to the content.
Public Domain Status of the Videos:
Each film we put on FMO falls into a clear category such as:
2. Never registered with Library of Congress; period for doing so has expired.
3. A post-1964 film that has not yet been registered with Library of Congress. These "NR" films can still be registered, and if they ever are then they could no longer be treated as public domain.
4. A pre-1964 film that was registered in the year it was made, but not renewed 28 years later.
5. A foreign film, usually Italian or Spanish, which has never been registered with the Library of Congress. The period allowed for GATT restoration has long passed and will not be allowed.
6. Invalid renewal filed after the 28 year deadling had expired.
7. Invalid registrations by a party that had nothing to do with making the film.
The following attempts to give an overview of the general principals and problems of copyrights and of the Public Domain.
By "Public Domain" we mean those creations which are no longer owned or protected by their creators or designated companies and which are fully usable by the public since they have fallen into Public ownership. We are going to limit this discussion to filmed materials that are recorded on film, on disc or tape, in electronic memory or any other means of recording and archiving progressive images in the form of moving/action presentation.
No item is protected until it has fulfilled the current legal requirements for such protection. Until such protection is initiated the materials may be in the "Public Domain" and are certainly usable without penalty. Failure to protect initially may be an oversight but continued failure can be construed as abandonment of the rights of protection for that item.
A film's protected status and protectable life begins with the initial commercial showing, the copyright registration date or the in-notice date whichever comes first.
Initially under copyright law the first registration was for a term of 28 years and that term could be renewed for another 28 years for a total protected term of 56 years. Prompt registration was called for in the law but the courts have interpreted that prompt period in a variety of time spans and so we must presume for want of a better definition that prompt might extend for the full 28 period. Failure to register during that period caused the materials to fall into the Public Domain. Initially renewal had to be performed in the 28th year and no later than the end of the protected period. This measurement was changed by law with the expiration of the initial period falling on December 31, of the 28th year.
Publication of materials without notice caused the materials to immediately fall into the Public Domain. The law required that a copyright notice consisting of the Year, the word copyright or the symbol for copyright in its place, and the name of the claiming copyright owner. The notice had to be clearly displayed and readable somewhere in the opening or closing credits of a film or television production. Publication of a defective notice was the same as publication without notice and the work would fall into the Public Domain.
Courts have asserted that underlying materials for a film (such as the story) may be exercised in the protection of that film if the underlying material is still protected under copyright. The exception to this would be if the creating company had bought in perpetuity all film rights for the underlying materials. In order to insure that such rights do not prevail the actual production and underlying material contracts would have to be scrutinized.
In preparing a film there are various elements which make up the film including: script, music, editing, special effects, etc. While in many cases these elements may be separately copyrighted if they were a part of the construction of the film and created for that film such underlying copyright do not have force as to the use of such elements in that film. These ancillary copyrights only protect the elements apart from the original production. An example would be music composed for the soundtrack of the film but subsequently placed under copyright as a separate unique item. That copyright would protect the music apart from the film but not in regard to the film since the music was part of the film. The same comment applies to written publication made from materials developed as part of the film production process. Subsequent publication and copyright of a book initially created as part of the Production development process would not gain the benefit of an underlying rights in regard to that Production.
In 1966 Congress started preparation of a new copyright law and extended to existing copyrights and extension of coverage that would apply under the new law, explicitly it extended the term of the copyright after renewal to one which would agree with the term under the new law. When this law was enacted the copyright term was extended to 75 years and this same extension applied to films which had not entered the Public Domain prior to 1966. Thus any film in copyright after 1909 and renewed automatically had its copyright period extended to 75 years.
The new law took effect on January 1, 1978 and no longer required a renewal for the coverage to extend for 75 years. The in-notice requirement was amended to permit an improper notice to be fixed within a term of five years. Since the term automatically extended 75 years on registration and since the period of prompt registration was inadequately defined, a film bearing notice could be registered at any time during the registration life span. No legal penalty was imposed for unregistered works and such penalties were not retroactive. So no penalties under law exist until the work is placed under copyright protection by registration. The five year grace period identified within the law placed a legal restriction on use of material before five years since theoretically during that period any material might be protected. The term non-registered (N.R.) applies to these unregistered but still protectable materials.
In 1992 legislation extended to films made prior to 1978 and after 1963 the automatic extension of their initial copyright. Such films were automatically protected without copyright renewal. This law did not set aside the requirement under law for prompt registration for film made prior to 1978 and as such failure to register those films within the copyright registration period of 28 years automatically transferred the materials to the Public Domain.
In 1998 an additional 20 years was granted to the copyright period making all films for 1923 on available for a 95 year period of protection.
Under NAFTE the films of both Canada and Mexico which had not been adequately protected under U.S. Copyright were given a limited period for such protection to be imposed.
Effective in 1996 materials which were protected in countries falling under the Bern convention were permitted to be protected under U.S. Copyright. This GATT treaty automatically placed all such protected materials under copyright within the limitation of the U.S. Copyright laws. The rightful owners had two years to register their protection and upon registration there was a one year grace period for owners of record to exploit their ownership before ceasing such exploitation. Owners of record as of January 1, 1996 were considered compliance owners and were granted a perpetual exclusion for all materials not protected within the two year registration period. Any film protected under GATT by the foreign owner of that material or his designated representative on his behalf was granted Copyright status in the United States.
In summary, all materials which failed to meet registration requirements in any of the various phases of Copyright protection would be usable by the Public within its rights of Public Domain.
Music in Public Domain Films:
Thousands of Hollywood motion pictures are in the Public Domain because they were released without Copyright Notices, were never registered with the Library of Congress, had improper or late registrations, or were not renewed after 28 years under the old requirements. The copyright status of a film may be researched with the Library of Congress.
These Public Domain films have been openly sold worldwide for over 30 years by hundreds of wholesale and retail merchants on 16mm, VHS and DVD. They have been broadcast by television stations to millions of consumers. They are available in streaming video on the internet. All of this has been done in full view of the movie studios who allowed the rights to lapse on their own movies. Courts have often ruled in favor of public domain when studios did not adhere to the copyright requirements.
Most movies contain MUSIC -- songs, a title song composed for the film, a background score or incidental music. Music is often copyrighted independently from the film in which it appears. However, film producers purchase music rights when they make a film. The music becomes part of that new work just like the story, the actors' performances, the sets, costumes and so on. The film is then copyrighted, registered and protected. When it falls into the public domain through intent or accident, all components of that film -- including the music -- become public domain within the original film that was released.
The music industry is well aware of this situation. To date they have not initiated any law cases which could overturn the wide practice of using and selling public domain films without paying additional royalties to the holders of music rights. By ignoring the situation for so long, they may have abandoned any hope of reclaiming rights should some test case eventually go to court.
However, if sections of a public domain film are excerpted for use in a new work like a documentary, then the producer needs to negotiate for any music rights in the clip. NOTE: TV variety shows often did not purchase music rights in perpetuity, so it may be necessary to pay music rights for use of an otherwise public domain TV show like "The Colgate Comedy Hour."
Many movies are based on books, magazine articles, comic books or other literary sources which have been copyrighted independently from the films. Examples from 70 years ago include RAIN (1932,Somerset Maugham), A FAREWELL TO ARMS (1932, Hemingway), HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1939, Ben Hecht), FIGHTING CARAVANS (1931, Zane Gray), all of which are widely sold as public domain. Producers purchase these rights when they make a film and when the film lapses into public domain the literary rights are usually not contested. In a few cases the owner of the literary rights will come forward after many years and try to claim the films. Such claims must come from the author's estate and will not come from the orginal studio. Law suits have taken place, i.e. over the Dick Tracy character, and ruled in favor of the public domain vendor.
Offering Public Domain Films to Other Countries:
We assume that an American film that is public domain in the USA is also public domain worldwide. However, we do not know if any certain country has unique copyright laws that might apply. For instance, all foreign films on FMO are restricted to US visitors.