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Examples Spread Over Several Illustrations Pages

This page groups together copyright information concerning specific works on which different aspects of the work are covered (or not covered) by different copyrights.  For each of the works, the examples have been discussed on earlier illustrations pages of this web site.  However, this page enables the reader to refresh his memory and better grasp how for a single work a number of different provisions of copyright law can have opposing results.

Readers should already understand the basics of copyright law, because much will be taken for granted in the interest of speed.  The appropriate level of understanding will come from using the main chart page as well as reading the illustrations pages and the citations and case-summaries pages.  The main chart page remains the key page of this web site, and is accessed here.  Links are provided as appropriate to the other earlier sections of this web site for those needing review.

Fractured Flickers


The television series Fractured Flickers (first broadcast 1963-1964) has been used for examples on three pages of this web site:
illustrations page 2: copyright notice
illustrations page 8: foreign
illustrations page 10: derivative versions

Each of the 26 episodes of the series was a combination of old movie scenes and new content (host segments, interview segments, narration, voice-overs, sound effects, music, credits, new writing).  Because the old movies excerpted were a mix of American works already out of copyright, American works still under copyright, and foreign scenes which would later gain protection through the 1994 URAA/GATT legislation, the various clips have shifted out and in of copyright, in some cases, doing so at different intervals.

Had the Fractured Flickers enjoyed the maximum term of copyright allowable for 1963 and 1964 television programs, the copyright status of the clips would not pose a barrier for use of the series by parties other than the producers and their successors.  However, Fractured Flickers was destined to enter the public domain before some of the clips which had been films and released four decades prior to the first broadcast of the series.  Why so?  Copyright protection on Fractured Flickers fell victim to wrong dates on the copyright notices (plural), conflicting notices, and failure of timely renewal.  The details are outlined on illustrations page 2 (copyright notice) (with images).

Scenes/Material in Fractured FlickersCopyright Status 1963/1964
(at first broadcast)
Subsequent Copyright Status
New material created for the series: that great animated credits sequenceAs original material, it was never subject to going into the public domain before the series did.  There are no prior copyright registrations relevant to the opening credits sequence, so it began its copyright term at the same time as the series as a whole.When the series entered the public domain, the opening credits did, too.  That enables this web site to present the full sequence on this page (although the web site editor opted to present only excerpts).  The series entered the public domain upon expiration of the first term without renewal at the end of 1989.
New material created for the series: host segments, on-camera interviews, voice-overs, narration, jokes, scripts.These are parts of the copyrighted series, covered by the copyrights on the episodes of the series, just as was the opening credits sequence.When the series entered the public domain upon expiration of the first term of copyright without renewal at the end of 1989, these parts entered the public domain.
American clips already already 28 years old and not renewed when the series beganFilms clips from before 1935 on which copyright had not been renewed were in the public domain when the series began.  Anyone could use them then and anyone can use them now.Anyone could use them then and anyone can use them now.
American clips renewed in the 28th year, initially copyrighted before 1923When Fractured Flickers was produced, clips from renewed American films initially copyrighted 1906-1922 could appear in the show only through licensing.Clips from 1906-1922 licensed for the show are now in the public domain.  All American works copyrighted prior to 1923 are now in the public domain.  Copyrights expired at the end of the 75th year as measured from the beginning of the copyright term.
American clips renewed in the 28th year, initially copyrighted 1923 and laterClips from 1923 and later that appeared on Fractured Flickers were licensed.  Several renewed films starring Buster Keaton were excerpted on Fractured Flickers through license with Keaton’s business manager.Works copyrighted 1923 and later on which copyright was renewed remain under copyright.  Copyrights run through the end of the 95th year measured from the beginning of the copyright term.
Foreign filmsWhen Fractured Flickers was produced, foreign films on which specifically American copyrights were not secured could be used freely in the United States.  Consequently, Fractured Flickers used excerpts from well-respected old German films.In 1994, URAA/GATT legislation conferred onto foreign works protection under American copyright law in cases where a work still enjoyed copyright protection in the source country.  (Exceptions apply.)  As a result, some foreign films which had been in the public domain in the United States (through lack of registration or failure to renew, for example) are now under copyright.  Copying of these clips, whether by themselves or as part of the full programs, requires permissions.  (There are mandatory-negotiation provisions in the 1994 legislation.)
Jay Ward Productions’s choices for editing the clips: specific points in the clips where deletions occurred, clips came to an end, and clips began; decisions on clips to juxtapose, clips to join in new multi-work montagesThese enjoyed copyright protection as part of the copyright on the full episodes, beginning on the publication date for the shows.Copyright on these aspects were lost when the programs entered the public domain.
Other material added by Jay Ward Productions: sound effects, and perhaps some musicThese programs re-use sounds previously used in other works from Jay Ward Productions, such as Rocky & His Friends (a.k.a., Adventures of Bullwinkle, Rocky & Bullwinkle), and its independent segments, including Fractured Fairy Tales, Peabody’s Improbable History, and Aesop and Son.  Where the sound was used earlier, it is part of the copyright on the earlier program and covered by underlying copyright.An earlier program that nonetheless had its copyright renewed represents an enforceable underlying copyright on any sound which became part of Fractured Flickers.  The copyright status on the earlier programs would have to be investigated.  The sound effects may thus remain under copyrighted and thus at the least should not be isolated and used without permission of any copyrighted holder the earlier programs may have.



The animation in the credits sequence of each program was original to the series, so when the series entered the public domain, the animated credits sequence entered the public domain as well.  Were it not in the public domain, this web site would not have incorporated any portion of it.  The excerpts in the two video loops comprise about 21 seconds, which is less than half of the original.  The full animated credits sequence can be used by anyone, but the shortened version shown here adds the editing judgments of the web site proprietor and is copyrighted as part of this web site.  (The pages on derivative versions and originality deal with this point, without specifically mentioning Fractured Flickers.)

You Bet Your Life / The Best of Groucho

The television series You Bet Your Life (first broadcast 1950-1961, syndicated as The Best of Groucho) has been used for examples on two pages of this web site:
illustrations page 1: publication
illustrations page 15: music

Network Broadcasts: You Bet Your Life was broadcast nationally on a major television network from 1950 to 1961.  Owing to the wording of the United States copyrights laws concerning “publication,” mere broadcast did not result in a program being considered “published” for purposes of copyright.  Under the rules applicable during the run of the series, it was not necessary to register for copyright any unpublished works, so the producers of the program did not subvert their rights by not registering formal copyrights on any of the weekly film-based broadcasts.

Syndicated Episodes: Many of the episodes of You Bet Your Life were leased to local television stations in altered versions retitled The Best of Groucho beginning in 1961.  However, many of the You Bet Your Life episodes were not syndicated, and thus have not been seen by audiences since the original broadcasts.  A few of the episodes not seen since the network broadcasts of the 1950s were published on DVD in 2004 and properly carry a copyright date of 2004 — because that’s the first year that these episodes were made available in a form that amounts to a “publication.”  These episodes that were copyrighted in 2004 and the episodes that have yet to be copyrighted for lack of any publication, have to be disregarded when considering the copyright status of The Best of Groucho.

The Best of Groucho episodes carry copyright dates of 1961.  Although the actual filming took place earlier in most cases (often many years earlier), 1961 is appropriate as a copyright date.  The 1961 syndication was marketed by NBC, which was a partner in the original production, so it might be argued that their leasing of prints to local stations did not constitute publication.  (See the court decision in Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Leslie Rubinowitz, et al.)  However, subsequent syndication was handled by third parties, so the Best of Groucho programs were published at that time.  (In 1980, C&C Synd. offered 230 episodes; in 1987, WW Entertainment offered a slimmed-down package of 130 episodes.  This list of syndicators is not necessarily exhaustive.)  Given the 1961 date that remained in the copyright notices, the copyright term has to be measured from 1961.  (See the court decisions in Southern Music Pub. Co. v. Bibo-Lang, Inc. and Frederick Chusid & Company v. Marshall Leeman & Co., et al.)  There was no copyright renewal registrations in calendar year 1999 as is necessary for a copyright term that began in calendar year 1961, so the copyrights on The Best of Groucho have expired.

For purposes of understanding to what extent You Bet Your Life has entered the public domain, it is necessary to understand The Best of Groucho as a derivative work.  (See the court decisions on derivative versions, particularly Batjac Productions Inc. v. GoodTimes Home Video Corp.; Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights, which decided that an unpublished underlying work (specifically a screenplay) was published by the later work which incorporated it (specifically the movie made from the screenplay) and that thus the copyright on the film came to govern those portions of the screenplay incorporated in the movie.  The illustrations page on publication has several images from You Bet Your Life and The Best of Groucho demonstrating what parts of the former were published by the latter when episodes of the former were altered for the latter.  Portions of You Bet Your Life cropped out of the image or conversations cut from the programs to shorten the length, as well as the original You Bet Your Life credits, were not published as parts of The Best of Groucho and thus these portions are not affected by the loss of copyright on The Best of Groucho.

Music: The Best of Groucho used as its opening credits music theme “Hooray for Captain Spaulding” (copyrighted 1928, renewed), using a recording that had also been used on some of the NBC pre-1961 broadcasts.  The tune also is heard during some of the programs while contestants talk over their joint quiz answer.  Owing to the subsisting underlying copyright in the song, the music during the credits and during the quiz cannot be used on Best of Groucho reprints and rebroadcasts without payment of music royalties.  Some issuers of low-cost DVDs have got around this by removing the original music and substituting bland music.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (first published 1885) has been used for examples on four pages of this web site:
illustrations page 1: publication
illustrations page 4: registration
illustrations page 7: copyright renewal
illustrations page 10: derivative versions

Any understanding of the copyright status of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has to consider that the novel has existed in different versions:

1884 manuscript: Mark Twain’s novel as completed contained passages that would not become available to the public during the lifetime of anyone who read the book at the time of its original publication.
1885 published book: first publication.
1896/1899 illustrated book: new edition from Harper & Brothers
1996 “Only Comprehensive Edition”: first publication to contain the passages in the manuscript that had been deleted from all previous published editions.

The 1884 manuscript has been in existence longer than any of the versions published from it over the next century, yet the parts unique to it have enjoyed copyright protection longer.  The reason is simple: the unique parts were unpublished for 112 years and thus could enjoy protection as an unpublished work.  (For works created 1978 and later, the applicable copyright law does not provide such generous extra time.)  The portions that had not been included in any 1885-1995 editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn did not come under statutory copyright until 1996.

The illustrations added after the text had already been published as a book but while that text was still under copyright, were entitled to separate copyright and achieved separate copyright through registration on the revised editions.  The copyright on the subsequent editions did not enlarge the copyright on the original edition and did not extend the term for which the published text was eligible.  Instead, the text continued to be accorded a term of copyright based on the 1885 publication date, and the illustrated editions were allowed to remain in copyright for a term based on their initial publication dates.  (The terms allotted amounted to 56 years, counting the third term of 14 years provided by the 1909 Copyright Act.)  The rule that addition of new material does not enlarge the copyright of the earlier version is well-fixed in American law, and was decided or assumed in an 1899 Supreme Court decision as well as numerous decisions rendered by lower courts. The 1899 Supreme Court decision and some lower court decisions are summarized on the citations and summaries page on derivative versions and new matter in copyright.

East of Borneo and Rose Hobart

The movie East of Borneo (1931) and the avant-garde film cut from it — Rose Hobart (1936) — have been used for examples on two pages of this web site:
illustrations page 1: publication
illustrations page 4: copyright registration
Additional comments have pointed out how other aspects are relevant to the topics of two additional pages:
illustrations page 7: copyright renewal
illustrations page 10: derivative works

As recounted on illustration pages 1 and 4, East of Borneo was a feature-length movie produced and released by Universal Pictures in 1931, copyrighted as a published motion picture photoplay August 24, 1931, registration number LP2424.  Rose Hobart (1936) was an unauthorized derivative work by New York-based artist Joseph Cornell who specialized in collages, not being someone to paint, draw, sculpt or photograph from scratch.  He hadn’t previously made a collage from movies for exhibition as an art work (nor had anyone else, to his knowledge) and didn’t make a practice of it again until two decades later.  Rose Hobart is comprised (mostly) from a 16mm print of East of Borneo shortened and rearranged into chronologically-jumbled shots that often focus on the leading lady, the Miss Hobart of his title.

It might be asked whether Universal Pictures had any legal rights regarding the despoiling of their 1931 drama.  Had Cornell made copies, there would have been a violation of copyright absent permission of Universal.  As it was, Cornell edited a film print he bought that apparently had been made by a Universal licensee to serve functions approved by Universal.  Editing that print for his own purposes was presumably as legitimate a right of Cornell as if he had underlined passages in a book, yellow-highlighted terminology in a school text, or torn articles from newspapers for his scrapbook.  The question of whether his alteration violated Universal’s rights only comes up when he presented his version to an audience to whom his editorial work might communicate an unfavorable misrepresentation of what Universal intended and had in fact distribution.

There wasn’t much chance that Universal would have learned of the near-desecration or seen it for themselves.  Beyond one showing of Rose Hobart which took place in 1936, and that in an art gallery, there were no more public exhibitions for over two decades.  (Those who did see it likely took away a negative impression of East of Borneo.  The essay accompanying Rose Hobart on the Treasures from American Film Archives DVD set (issued by the National Film Preservation Foundation, 2000) remarks that “Rose Hobart makes its critique on these terms: Hollywood fails in its banal screenplays, not its raw images.”)

By the time that Rose Hobart was shown more frequently and obtaining a reputation as a pioneering avant-garde work, Universal had lost its legal right to object.  Although Rose Hobart didn’t require copyright registration to enjoy copyright protection because Rose Hobart had not been published, East of Borneo was distributed far and wide, thus had been published.  Universal had understood this in 1931 when it had put a copyright notice on the East of Borneo main title (see the frame from the main title of East of Borneo accompanying this text) and when it had registered copyright with the Copyright Office, declaring East of Borneo as a published motion picture photoplay.  Under the rules, that copyright would have be renewed in the 28th year to remain in force beyond 1959.

Universal practiced good diligence in renewing copyright on its sound films.  East of Borneo is among the few exceptions on which the studio allowed copyright to lapse.  Had the studio renewed copyright on East of Borneo, it would remain in copyright for as long as the studio’s Dracula and Frankenstein films from the same year.  Both these 1931 horror classics will be under copyright until the end of 2026.

In allowing copyright to lapse on East of Borneo, Universal could not have been thinking of helping Joseph Cornell.  His film hadn’t yet found an appreciative audience.  In the 1960s, Rose Hobart began to develop a positive reputation.  It wasn’t until 1969 or later that Anthology Film Archives made copies from what had previously been the only copy of Cornell’s collage (acquired by the Archives in 1969); distribution is now handled by the Museum of Modern Art.  In 1992, Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman named it on his list of ten films submitted to the 1992 edition of Sight and Sound magazine’s prestigious poll of greatest movies.  Distribution in 2000 on the Treasures from American Film Archives DVD set was the first mass distribution.  In 2001, the Librarian of Congress named Rose Hobart one of 25 additions to the National Film Registry (which since 1989 has added each year 25 films considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”).

Has Rose Hobart shifted from being an unpublished work to a published one?  Yes.  Distribution on DVD as part of Treasures from American Film Archives amounted to publication.  When that occurred in 2000, the newer copyright laws permitted copyright to be maintained even without compliance of such formalities as copyright notice and registration.  However, the National Film Preservation Foundation did formally copyright the set.  (Notice appears on discs and in companion book.  Registration date: November 9, 2000.)  Prior to year 2000, the shift in distribution from Cornell to Anthology Film Archives to the Museum of Modern Art may have been sufficient to constitute publication, but even here, the number of prints has remained small and distribution limited.

Can East of Borneo be copied without authorization of Universal?  Can Rose Hobart be copied without authorization of the Museum of Modern Art?  Can anyone cut up East of Borneo into a new Rose Hobart?

The answer to the first questions is: Yes!, anyone can copy East of Borneo.  It is in the public domain.  The answer to the second question is: Probably not, it seems to have enjoyed protection as an unpublished work until being copyrighted as among the components of the the National Film Preservation Foundation set.  The answer to the third question is: You cannot re-cut East of Borneo to make it exactly the same film as Rose Hobart.  While it is true that East of Borneo lacks copyright protection, this does not give anyone the right to duplicate Joseph Cornell’s editing choices without permission from his successors.  Copyright provides that right.  Want to hack up East of Borneo into a combination of shots never before assembled?  Go ahead.  That’s legal.

The Last Time I Saw Paris

The movie The Last Time I Saw Paris (first shown 1954) has been used for examples on two pages of this web site:
illustrations page 2: copyright notice
illustrations page 7: copyright renewal

In addition, the song The Last Time I Saw Paris (first published 1940) has been used for an example on:
illustrations page 7: copyright renewal

The movie entitled The Last Time I Saw Paris carries a 1944 date in the copyright notice on the film itself.  This error caused its term of copyright to be measured from 1944 rather than from 1954, and for the first term of copyright to effectively last for 18 years rather than the 28 years normally accorded.  (The previous sentence states “effectively” because the term does indeed cover the ten years of 1944-1953 as part of a full 28-year term, even though coverage from 1944-1953 does no good to a work not in existence during those years.)  The copyright notice from the movie is reproduced on the illustrations page about copyright notice; the copyright registration listing from the Copyright Office publication Catalog of Copyright Entries is reproduced on the illustration page about copyright renewal.

The song “The Last Time I Saw Paris” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II existed prior to the movie — the song even pre-dates the wrong date on the movie — and just by virtue of having been published prior to the movie has to be considered an underlying work.  Copyright on the song was renewed and remains so as of this writing.  Currently, copyright on the song is scheduled to expire at the end of 2035.  (Listings of the copyright renewals as they appeared in Catalog of Copyright Entries are reproduced on the illustration page about copyright renewal.

When Mad magazine published satirical lyrics intended to be sung to the tunes of well-known songs, composer Irving Berlin sued.  The court’s written decision makes the point of what these parodies consisted of by printing in the decision, side-by-side, the original lyrics for “The Last Time I Saw Paris” and Mad’s satirical version.  At least two books written for laymen about copyright law have reprinted this comparative passage.  The present web site doesn’t, but the case is summarized here.

One court decision concerned whether the song “The Last Time I Saw Paris” was an infringement.  This case is summarized here.

Pardon Us

Pardon Us is used as an example on the illustrations page on publication in that an early cut of the film was prepared and shown to a limited audience (under circumstances that did not constitute “publication”) and then released in what became the standard version of the film.  In that there were at least two different versions of the film (the film was previewed more than once, apparently altered between previews), there comes up the aspect of derivative versions, mentioned briefly on the illustrations page on derivative versions.

Unrelated, Pardon Us contains a performance of a song which is thought by many the earlier of two songs which are so similar that the similarity negates separate copyright protection on the later song.  Given that the later song is the famous “Happy Birthday,” the question of similarity can potentially affect the substantial collection of royalties on this often-performed song.  The proprietor of this web site does not offer an answer to this question, but does provide an audio clip of the earlier song (dated before the copyright on “Happy Birthday”) enabling visitors to this site to better decide for themselves.  The link for this subject is the illustrations page on similarity.



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