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Legal implications of the OOT DVDs

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What do you think are the legal implications of the new OOT DVDs being released?

I could think of 3 reasons to do them:
1 - to please the OOT fans
2 - to make money
3 - to clear up the legal situation and allow those who distribute OOT rips to be prosecuted.

I think 1 is clearly out the window, they are not particularly concerned about this (indeed Mr Lucas doesn't even believe there is really a demand for them).
2 is a given. They wouldn't do it if it lost money.
So that leaves 3.

I think all restorers who are making an organised effort - like X0 Project - should be VERY CAREFUL come September.

We have seen that the MPAA is getting harsher, tagging along behind the RIAA's "sue the customer to increase sales" tactic.

We have seen that George Lucas has developed a strange loathing for some sections of his fans (maybe all of them).

It seems that LucasFilm are becoming more and more the commercial money-making machine, moving away from their original emphasis on new tech.

So therefore: I suspect that we will see a flood of cease-and-desists and possibly serious legal action against the most visible restoration projects, come September.

What do you think?
Darth Lucas: I am altering the trilogy. Pray I don't alter it further.
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PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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Oh, and I meant to add:

We have seen with the RIAA (and to a lesser extent MPAA) that they don't necessarily think about this logically. For example they count every download as a lost sale, regardless of whether the downloader would have bought it or not. Further, they don't realise, or can't accept, that the biggest downloaders and distributors may often be the biggest fans who have already spent lots of money on the officiial stuff.

So the fact that most people here have already bought one or several copies of Star Wars won't affect their perception of us as greedy internet thieves.

(This is a stupid argument, but its how they perceive the situation).
Darth Lucas: I am altering the trilogy. Pray I don't alter it further.
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I've been thinking about this too. Its hard to say. On the one hand the release will technically be official--BUT, do we lose our right if ours are actually BETTER? Isn't that one of the primary tenants of the preservations, to improve upon what we already have to work with in official releases? I suppose legally Lucasfilm could make a convincing case if they really wanted to sock it to us.

Fan edits are a different matter though.

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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I thought that the OOT was in the public domain by now.....isn't there a length of time after initial release that movies become part of the public domain?

I love everybody. Lets all smoke some reefer and chill. Hug and kisses for everybody.

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Zombie ... you ask about losing our right to something. But has that right been established? Has it been signed into law or tested in court? Most of the projects here are in the gray areas of morality, and almost certainly illegal under US law. (Other countries may vary.) Of the major projects, only Star Wars Legacy seems to be taking the safe road when it comes to potential problems with the MPAA. Lucas added a new dimension when declared the O-OT were "workprints," and not intended for future commercial sales, but I wouldn't want to use that as my defense if taken to court. Nor would I want to use the "It belongs in a museum!" defense; however true that sentiment may be, I don't think the authors of copyright law took it into account.

Vbangle ... they won't be in public domain until long after GL is dead. Seventy or ninety years, depending on whether it has individual or corporate authorship. It might enter public domain sooner in other countries, similar to the way a publisher's error made Lord of the Rings public domain in the United States, but I think we'll do all we can to keep other countries in line with our own law -- especially when the copyright expiration date on those lucrative Disney Classics starts to come up around the world.
"It's the stoned movie you don't have to be stoned for." -- Tom Shales on Star Wars
Scruffy's gonna die the way he lived.
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Anyone interested in copyright issues should have a go at THIS.

This is info on FAIR USE.

ned
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I should clarify ... the projects are all okay, but the moment you start to distribute copyrighted material in amounts greater than permitted by fair use, you're opening yourself up to trouble. Even derivative works, like the splitscreen edition, go beyond fair use. The Backstroke subtitle set is an interesting case, though; it's a derivative work, but due to its abysmal quality it could almost be a parody ... and I doubt the actual copyright holder to that translation would come forward to claim damages!

Edit:

On the subject of workprints, Wikipedia says something created before 1978 but published before 2002 has Federal copyright protection until 2047. If George was serious about his movies being "workprints," then Star Wars (not ANH!) will enter public domain in 2047. I'm sure the ANH crawl can be claimed as fair use, or recreated as a deriviative of the 1977 crawl, and used to reconstruct the ANH crawl by interested parties.

There are at least two problems with the above idea are,

a) George can change his mind about the workprint thing any time he wants, and point out that the film was clearly in a final, published form by 1977, and

b) Probably none of us will care by then.
"It's the stoned movie you don't have to be stoned for." -- Tom Shales on Star Wars
Scruffy's gonna die the way he lived.
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Just to clarify...

From the US Copyright Office:

"WHO MAY PREPARE A DERIVATIVE WORK?

Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work."

In this case, that would be George Lucas.

ned
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Just from my own college-student idiotic point of view (I live in a bubble for Christs' sakes)... wouldn't it be good if they came in against us? I mean, that would bring this story much more to the front pages. I'm sure the MPAA has people in it that are fans of the original trilogy. I'm sure if we presented our case well, we could easily make Lucas look like an oppresive dictator impeaching on his own fans.

Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here, this is the war room!

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Originally posted by: vbangle
I thought that the OOT was in the public domain by now.....isn't there a length of time after initial release that movies become part of the public domain?


HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

In the US, thanks to Disney and Sonny Bono, NOTHING has passed into the public domain since 1923.
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I don't think that Lucas needed to release the OOT if they wanted to shut down the XO project and the other projects on here. Copyright just doesn't work like that. Since this site isn't exactly a big secret, they could of shut all this down long ago, without the trouble of releasing the OOT on DVD first.
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Originally posted by: Karyudo
Originally posted by: vbangle
I thought that the OOT was in the public domain by now.....isn't there a length of time after initial release that movies become part of the public domain?


HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

In the US, thanks to Disney and Sonny Bono, NOTHING has passed into the public domain since 1923.


Night of the Living Dead is, since they forgot to put a copyright at the end of the film!

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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Originally posted by: Karyudo
Originally posted by: vbangle
I thought that the OOT was in the public domain by now.....isn't there a length of time after initial release that movies become part of the public domain?


HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

In the US, thanks to Disney and Sonny Bono, NOTHING has passed into the public domain since 1923.


Hey, I now know that I was completely wrong in my assumtions, but why be a jerk? What's with the "HAHAHAHAHAHA"? Why make fun of somebody? Get a life.

I love everybody. Lets all smoke some reefer and chill. Hug and kisses for everybody.

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As in the case with the RIAA, if something happens you won't get to argue your case unless you have money.

A C&D threatening all kinds of terrible things will arrive.
Ignore that, a case gets filed and a letter arrives saying "pay us $5000 and we will drop the case".
If you want to stand on your principles, better have some tens of thousands set aside to fight the case.

I agree that they probably could have shut things down earlier, however, technically the OOT was not available commercially on DVD before now, so fans were distributing something that didn't commercially exist, so it couldn't be argued that sales were being lost.

This might just clarify the legal point.

Still, it probably is just paranoia.

Which leaves making money as the motive. Entirely believable I guess. Some marketers idea of "leveraging the brand", perhaps. I don't really believe George Lucas is money grubbing like many do, but Lucasfilm doubtless contains dozens of sales people whose job is simply to find out new ways to make money off Star Wars.



Darth Lucas: I am altering the trilogy. Pray I don't alter it further.
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vbangle is right. There is a certain period of time that copyrights are supposed to expire. Its just that the goverment keeps extending that period of time, so that that time never comes. Some things have expired, because the original copyright holders didn't renew/extend them. Go to Wal-Mart/K-Mart/Target or whatever discount department store is in your area, and see the bargin bin of DVDs/videos. They are full of old movies that weren't published by their original copyright holders, because they are now in public domain.
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Originally posted by: ronlaw
As in the case with the RIAA, if something happens you won't get to argue your case unless you have money.

A C&D threatening all kinds of terrible things will arrive.
Ignore that, a case gets filed and a letter arrives saying "pay us $5000 and we will drop the case".
If you want to stand on your principles, better have some tens of thousands set aside to fight the case.

I agree that they probably could have shut things down earlier, however, technically the OOT was not available commercially on DVD before now, so fans were distributing something that didn't commercially exist, so it couldn't be argued that sales were being lost.

This might just clarify the legal point.

Still, it probably is just paranoia.

Which leaves making money as the motive. Entirely believable I guess. Some marketers idea of "leveraging the brand", perhaps. I don't really believe George Lucas is money grubbing like many do, but Lucasfilm doubtless contains dozens of sales people whose job is simply to find out new ways to make money off Star Wars.


I agree that the C&D letters are scary, and the RIAA/MPAA have gotten pretty nasty with their lawsuits. But I still say that the argument that we are distributing something that isn't available on DVD isn't legally valid. If Lucas wanted to just sit on Star Wars and never release it in any form whatsoever, he is still within his rights as long as he still holds a valid copyright, and can still shut down any distribution.
Now Lucas may not have cared about distribution of OOT DVDs because he didn't have it on DVD, and might start going after these projects after the release of the OOT, but he didn't need to release it on DVD first just to shut down this site, XO project, or anything else. I'm guessing that Lucas hasn't felt that we were worth the effort up to now.
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Just to clarify...

From the US Copyright Office:

"WHO MAY PREPARE A DERIVATIVE WORK?

Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work."

In this case, that would be George Lucas.

ned


I know this is the case, because there was a lawsuit brought up by the studios against people creating "edited" versions of existing DVDs (removing swear words or violent content.) They were coming up with a DVD playback system that would have "scripts of actual DVDs, and would somehow overlay graphic material, or bleep out offensive terms. This effort was headed by a church group, but the studios said they had no right to alter the films in any way, shape or form. I never heard the outcome of this case. Anyone else remember what I'm talking about. It was all over the news many, many months ago.
MeBeJedi: Sadly, I believe the prequels are beyond repair.
JediRandy: They're certainly beyond any repair you're capable of making.


MeBeJedi: You aren't one of us.
Go-Mer-Tonic: I can't say I find that very disappointing.


JediRandy: I won't suck as much as a fan edit.
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Originally posted by: vbangle
Hey, I now know that I was completely wrong in my assumptions, but why be a jerk? What's with the "HAHAHAHAHAHA"? Why make fun of somebody? Get a life.


Don't worry, I wasn't laughing at you. I was laughing at the absurdity of the whole situation.The way you've described things is indeed how things are supposed to have gone. Copyright's supposed to be a limited monopoly granted to the creator of some work. I would be quite pleased if what you wrote was actually the way things went. But as usual, when special interests with deep pockets are involved, it's all gone a little Pete Tong.

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Originally posted by: Number20
Some things have expired, because the original copyright holders didn't renew/extend them. Go to Wal-Mart/K-Mart/Target or whatever discount department store is in your area, and see the bargin bin of DVDs/videos. They are full of old movies that weren't published by their original copyright holders, because they are now in public domain.


I don't think that's true. I think what has happened is that there are an awful lot of works that are basically worthless (commercially), and those original copyright holders end up selling for a song the rights to stick those films on DVD.

Those of you who are interested in this copyright stuff should read "Free Culture," by Lawrence Lessig. It's available free online at
http://www.free-culture.cc/. For me, the most interesting anecdote was the $10,000 fee Fox wanted for a filmmaker to show several seconds of The Simpsons in the background of an otherwise-nothing-to-do-with-the-Simpsons documentary film. Every lawyer the guy talked to said, "That should be fair use!" But none could confirm he wouldn't get sued regardless.
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Enforcing breach of copyright is about proving loss of earnings. This would be hard to do with or without the new DVD set, but who wants to get into a legal battle with LFL? They could have shut these projects down long ago if that was their plan. The new set is coming for two reasons, IMHO:
1) money;
2) there are people in LFL who think the OUT should be out there.
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Originally posted by: Karyudo
I don't think that's true. I think what has happened is that there are an awful lot of works that are basically worthless (commercially), and those original copyright holders end up selling for a song the rights to stick those films on DVD.


There may be some that are licenced out cheaply by the copyright holders, but there are also many where the copyrights have expired. An example is the Andy Griffith Show. There were a handful of episodes, 8 or so, that for some reason that Paramount messed up and forgot to renew the copyrights on them. So they are now public domain, and you will find them as bargin bin DVD's. If you look at them, several different companies will release discs of them, but they will always be the same few episodes. They will have the original theme song taken out because it is still under copyright, but the actual episode isn't. Even with the Andy Griffith Show now available as season boxsets, these discs haven't been stopped by Paramount because they simply can't. They don't have the copyright anymore.
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Huh! Learn something new everyday. Looks like there are at least 16 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show that are being made available as public domain.

I'm no lawyer, and I'm no copyright historian, but I'm pretty sure that this sort of renewal gaffe can no longer occur. Currently, there appears to be no requirement for the creator of a work to register a copyright, and therefore there is no need to re-register to continue one's copyright.