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The Public Domain

Lesson 13 from: Copyright, Trademark, and Intellectual Property for Filmmakers

Rachel Rodgers

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Lesson Info

13. The Public Domain

Lesson Info

The Public Domain

So let's talk about situation where you don't need to get clearance and that would be for works that are included in the public domain, so things that are in the cup public domain mean that anyone can use them in any context. For example, you know, government information, government web sites are in the public domain, you can use statutes and laws and other government publications freely, they're considered to be in the public domains. That would be one example other works that earned the public domain or works that don't have a copyright attached to it. Oftentimes the reason they don't have a copyright attached to it is because the copyright has expired. Okay, so like I said, copyright registrations have a time frame and it's often connected tio the life of the author themselves on dh there's a couple of variations, but let's say, you know, someone who's, you know, for example, of shakespeare, there are a lot of shakespearean plays that might be in the public domain, but you have to b...

e careful because you have to make sure that the edited version is actually in the public domain. Okay, one example I'll give you is on my website small business bodyguard dot com we have a blogger called the and spb dictionary, right, and so that's, where we take legal words and, you know, take the definition, give you the sort of legal definition, and then explain it to you in plain english, right? So that's, what we do, it's one of the columns that appears on my block, we actually use a version of black's law dictionary, but we use those super old school version because that version is in the public domain, and we don't have to worry about having it appear on our website. If we use the current version, which is copyrighted material, we wouldn't be able tio to have it appear in our blood without getting clearance first. So that's just an example to show you that different editions might have copyright registrations attached to it. So it might be that, you know, shakespearian play actually is in the public domain, but just make sure it's in addition, that's in the public domain because some editions may not be ok, so you have to be kind of careful there also, there are times when the actual lyrics to a song are, you know, maybe they're no longer copyright protected, but the recording itself of the song is so just be very careful when you're thinking about the public domain. So these are the, um, criteria of works that are likely in the public domain if they're published before nineteen twenty three. In the u s or even outside the u s with a couple of exceptions there most likely in the public domain so super old stuff most likely in the public domain if they're unpublished and the creator died before nineteen forty five okay, these they're super random and specific okay um but that would be another circumstance where the work would be considered within the public domain or if the work was anonymous, unpublished and created before eighteen, ninety five okay, so not going to be super applicable, but there is a handy chart from cornell university here's the web address here on the screen, you can go there, and that will help you sort of understand the works that would be considered in the public domain or not. But this is something where maybe, you know, if you're not sure pay for an hour of an attorney's time to get their opinion about whether they believe it's in the public domain or not. So that's a way for you to use, you know, other peoples creative works without having to get clearance. So another, you know, thing that filmmakers often are confused about is creative commons. Now creative commons isn't really a copyright substitute it's really just a set of like sort of licenses that the creator is providing right? So they're saying that they want their work to be used used in certain circumstances and there's a couple of different ways they can do it where they might give you the right to share the work or two might to use it in a non commercial setting or to use it in an actual commercial setting or to create derivative works from so this is very similar to when we talked about the five rights of copyright so creative commons license is is just essentially taking apart the rights of copyright and decide and the owner of the author is deciding in what ways you can use that work okay so you know obviously creative common licenses let the creators decide the terms by which other people can use their work right so there is a large pool of creative material that falls under creative commons license is but of course just like what the public domain you want to be very very careful because if you're using it in a commercial setting there are a lot of exceptions and there are a lot of situations where commercial use is not permitted you know royalty free so maybe you khun license it with a creative common license but you have to pay a royalty to do that so just make sure that if you're thinking about using a work that has a creative commons license attached to it that you read the license super careful so you know exactly in what context you can and cannot use that okay so that's howto avoid copyright infringement in your films andi gives you a step by step process different ways for you teo have access to other people's creative works in your videos okay, but of course the rule is if you can get permission definitely get permission that's always the ideal situation and also get it in writing you know, I've actually had a situation where a client of mine she was actually an illustrator she teamed up with another writer and they created an e book so it had some written content in it and then it had you know, my client's illustrations in it as well. Now this was based on the work of a psychologist who created this particular you know, sort of thought process about psychology on dh so that person was the teacher of the writer ok? And so she went to him and said hey, I'd like to use your work to create an e book you know I will obviously not be using the work verbatim but I'd like my book to be sort of talking about the work that you've created and sort of your you know, thought leadership on this particular topic and so he said yes and so she created the work they created the book they put it on amazon and they were selling it and making money from it on a monthly basis and then they got a letter from this psychologist saying, hey you're stealing my work. I didn't give you permission on. I want you to take it down immediately. And so they said, well, wait, we got permission from you and he says, I don't remember giving it to you. Okay, so now what? What can you do your kind of up a creek, right? Because you don't have any written proof that he's given you permission and so they had to cut off a revenue source for their business and, you know, take the book down. Thie other alternative was negotiating a deal. And the deal that the psychologist wanted was just not palatable to them. And also they had preferred to take it down than to just change the work so substantially the way he wanted them to do it. So that shows you how important it is. Tio not only get permission, but make sure you get it in writing. Okay? So that you have it. You can show your insurance company and you can show anyone you need. Tio. If there's an instance of, you know, potential copyright infringement lawsuit.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Rachel Rodgers - Copyright Cheat Sheet.pdf
Rachel Rodgers - CreativeLive Handout.pdf
Rachel Rodgers - Filmmaker Clauses.docx

Ratings and Reviews

Robert W. Daniel

This is HOT! This is a must see course for anyone who is producing or filming an independent film.

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