Old Films Fall Into Public Domain Under Copyright Law

“They show up in discount DVD bins, or more often today online, sometimes looking a little worse for the wear. A general pall of darkness might cloud the image; the dialogue might be a bit tinnier than you remembered. Often the quality is not too shabby, though in the case of the web, it can be a surprise that they’re online at all. They’re films that have fallen out of copyright for one reason or another and must weather the wilds of the public domain. Thanks to the curious history of motion picture copyright, a number of well-known films — and some excellent obscure ones — have ended up in this purgatory.” (via Old Films Fall Into Public Domain Under Copyright Law)

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