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List of films in the public domain in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Most films are subject to copyright, but those listed here are believed to be in the public domain in the United States. This means that no government, organization, or individual owns any copyright over the work, and as such it is common property.[1] This list is not comprehensive; the vast majority of public domain films are not included here for various reasons. Films in this list may incorporate elements from other works that are still under copyright, even though the film itself is out of copyright.

Copyrightable elements of a film

There is no official list of films (or other works) in the public domain. It is difficult to determine the public domain status of a film because it can incorporate any or all of the following copyrightable elements:

Film copyright involves the copyright status of multiple elements that make up the film.[4] A film can lose its copyright in some of those elements while retaining copyright in other elements.[4] Experts in the field of public domain sometimes differ in their opinions as to whether a particular film is in the public domain.

The use of music in a film can cause uncertainty with regard to copyright. As of 2010, it is not known whether the use of music in a film constitutes publication of the music for the purpose of copyright.[5] Unpublished works are treated differently from published works under US copyright law.[6]

Judicial interpretation of public domain

Judges, too, differ in their interpretation of the laws governing copyright protection. The United States is a "patchwork quilt" of inconsistent copyright rules in different federal judicial districts. The courts of one jurisdiction are not obliged to follow the decisions of another.[7] The Supreme Court of the United States (which could resolve those inconsistencies) very seldom decides copyright cases, and then only when an important principle is involved.[citation needed]

Documenting public domain status

If a film appears on the list below, there is a high probability it has lost some or all of its United States copyright protection or, in the case of U.S. government films, was never protected by copyright.

There is no single method for determining if a film, or parts of it, is in the public domain. There are several methods that can be used to document a film's public domain status. These include the following:

Determining copyright registration

Motion picture copyright registrations prior to 1978 were published in semi-annual Copyright Catalogs. The Library of Congress also published cumulative Copyright Catalogs of motion picture registrations for the periods

  • 1894–1911
  • 1912–1939[8]
  • 1940–1949
  • 1950–1959
  • 1960–1969
  • 1970–1979
  • 1980–1989

All are out of print. However, the Film Superlist series is a complete reprint of all registrations in the Copyright Catalogs for 1894 through 1959. There is no cumulative Copyright Catalog for 1970–1977; the Copyright Office published 16 semi-annual Copyright Catalog booklets covering that eight-year period, but all are out of print and extremely rare. All copyright registrations from 1978 onward are online at the Library of Congress website.

Some decades of The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures include copyright registration information for feature films (not shorts) of United States origin. This can include a statement that research failed to disclose copyright registration for a particular film. Copyright registration information is given in the following:

  • The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures, 1931–1940; ISBN 0-913616-00-1
  • The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures, 1941–1950; ISBN 0-913616-39-7

The United States copyright website catalogs all the pre-1978 works that have been renewed in 1978 or later.[9] Several pieces of work have been renewed in the form of collections, thus giving the collection as a whole copyright protection.

Missing or flawed copyright notice

Screenshot of copyright notice that does not contain a claimant,[10] the notice merely saying "© 1965" (view enhanced image)
Screenshot of copyright notice that does not contain a claimant,[10] the notice merely saying "© 1965" (view enhanced image)

Films published before March 1, 1989 had to contain a valid copyright notice in order to claim copyright. At the bare minimum, the copyright notice had to include the word "copyright" or an acceptable abbreviation (like a circled C), the year of publication (which could not be more than one year ahead of the actual publication), and the name of any entity claiming the copyright.

For example, episodes of the animated TV series The New 3 Stooges were published with an incomplete copyright notice with a year and copyright symbol but no claimant. The series was published prior to 1989, and the lack of an explicit claimant ensured that the series immediately lapsed into the public domain. Had the series been published after this date, the owner of any copyright would have been unclear due to uncertainty over ownership of the series.

As a result of the passage of the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988, a copyright notice is not required for films published on March 1, 1989 or later. An invalid notice or a lack of one would not invalidate the copyright to works published between 1978 and March 1, 1989 as long as a proper notice was added to subsequent copies.[11]

Date of publication and renewal status

All motion pictures made and exhibited before 1927 are indisputably in the public domain in the United States. This date will move forward one year, every year, meaning that films released in 1927 will enter the public domain in 2023, films from 1928 in 2024, and so on, concluding with films from 1977 entering the public domain in 2073.

Films registered between 1927 and 1963 had to have their copyrights renewed in order for them not to enter the public domain. The semi-annual Copyright Catalog booklets have virtually complete lists of renewals for the films registered 28 years earlier. Those semi-annual booklets all are out of print. However, for 1927 through 1959, the Film Superlist books match copyright renewals with earlier registrations. Copyright registrations and renewals can be found in

As a result of the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992, copyrights registered between 1964 and later were automatically renewed.

Before the passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) in 1998, the term of copyright in the U.S. was a maximum of 75 years, with the work entering the public domain on January 1 of the 76th year from creation (so, for example, a film made in 1930 whose copyright was properly registered and renewed would enter the public domain on January 1, 2006). As such, all films released before 1923 would have entered the public domain by January 1, 1998. Although the CTEA added 20 years to the terms of all existing copyrights until 2019, it explicitly refused to revive any copyrights that had expired prior to its passage. On January 1, 2019, the 20-year extension expired and new works began entering the public domain each year thereafter.

Underlying rights

Many of the movies listed below are based on novels, plays, magazine stories or a combination of these sources. In some cases, a film's copyright has lapsed because of non-renewal while the underlying literary or dramatic source is still protected by copyright; for example, the movie His Girl Friday (1940) became a public domain film in 1969 because it was not renewed, but it is based on the 1928 play The Front Page, which is still under copyright until 2024 and thus, as a practical matter, the film cannot be used without permission.[4]

Work of the United States government

All works made by United States government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain from their creation. The status of works made by contractors is dependent on the terms of their contract. Note that this applies only to the federal government, and not to state or local governments, which may or may not claim copyright depending on state laws.[citation needed]


Some films are not listed here in order to keep this list to a manageable size. These include films that were released before 1927 (see Category:Films by year for pre-1927 films) and works of the United States government. Films released under a free license such as Creative Commons are also excluded on the basis they are not technically in the public domain, despite being free to share and use.

Note: This list is not comprehensive; the vast majority of public domain films are not listed here. This list includes a selection of notable films where a reliable secondary source is available that discusses public domain status.
Film title Release year Director Studio / Distributor Entered the public domain in (year) Reason for entering the public domain Note(s)
Abraham Lincoln 1930 D. W. Griffith United Artists 1958[12] Copyright not renewed[12]
Africa Screams 1949 Charles Barton United Artists 1977 Copyright not renewed[13][14]
Algiers 1938 John Cromwell United Artists 1966 Copyright not renewed[15]
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp 1939 Dave Fleischer Paramount Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][16] The third of three Popeye Technicolor two-reel specials
The Amazing Mr. X 1948 Bernard Vorhaus Eagle-Lion Films [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][17] Also known as The Spiritualist
Angel and the Badman 1947 James Edward Grant Republic Pictures 1975 Copyright not renewed[18]
The Animal Kingdom 1932 Edward H. Griffith RKO Radio Pictures 1960 Copyright not renewed[15]
At War with the Army 1950 Hal Walker Paramount Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][19]
Attack of the Giant Leeches 1959 Bernard L. Kowalski American International Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][20]
The Bat 1959 Crane Wilbur Allied Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][21]
Beat the Devil 1953 John Huston United Artists 1980 Copyright not renewed[22] The 2016 restoration is not in the public domain
Beau Ideal 1931
(copyright notice: 1930)
Herbert Brenon RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
Becky Sharp 1935 Rouben Mamoulian RKO Radio Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][24]
Behind Office Doors 1931 Melville W. Brown RKO Radio Pictures 1959 Copyright not renewed[23]
Bird of Paradise 1932 King Vidor RKO Radio Pictures 1960 Copyright not renewed[15]
Blood on the Sun 1945 Frank Lloyd United Artists 1973 Copyright not renewed[18]
Blue Steel 1934 Robert N. Bradbury Lone Star Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing].[25]
Bowery at Midnight 1942 Wallace Fox Monogram Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][26]
The Brain That Wouldn't Die 1962
(completed: 1959)
Joseph Green American International Pictures 1962 Missing copyright notice[27] Originally completed in 1959 under the title The Black Door (it was then changed to The Head That Wouldn't Die), it was not released until May 3, 1962, where failure to add the copyright notice resulted in the film entering the public domain.[27]
Brideless Groom 1947 Edward Bernds Columbia Pictures 1960s[28] Copyright not renewed[28] Short film
A Bucket of Blood 1959 Roger Corman American International Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][29]
Captain Kidd 1945 Rowland V. Lee United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][30]
Carnival of Souls 1962 Herk Harvey Herts-Lion International Corp. 1962 Missing copyright notice[31] There was a dispute about the rights to the film from 1990 to 1995. [32]
The entirety of the film rights might have been granted to John Clifford in 1996.[33]
The DVD release of the film by The Criterion Collection lists copyright by Harold Harvey and John Clifford.
Charade 1963 Stanley Donen Universal Pictures 1963 Defective copyright notice[34] Original music still in copyright[35]
Original story by Peter Stone still in copyright[34][36]
The Chase 1946 Arthur Ripley Nero Films/United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing] Independent film left without an owner[37]
Check and Double Check 1930 Melville W. Brown RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[38]
Conspiracy 1930 Christy Cabanne RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
Cyrano de Bergerac 1950 Michael Gordon United Artists 1980s [data unknown/missing][39][40]
The Dance of Life 1929 John Cromwell Paramount Pictures 1957 Copyright not renewed[15]
Danger Lights 1930 George B. Seitz RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
The Deadly Companions 1961 Sam Peckinpah Pathé-America 1961 Missing copyright notice[41]
Debbie Does Dallas 1978 Jim Clark VCX 1981 Missing copyright notice[42] The Dallas Cowboys hold veto power on commercial publication because of unauthorized use of their trademarks.[43]
Dementia 13 1963 Francis Ford Coppola American International Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][20] Also known as The Haunted and the Hunted
Detour 1945 Edgar G. Ulmer Producers Releasing Corporation [data unknown/missing] Copyright not renewed[44]
The Devil Bat 1940 Jean Yarbrough Producers Releasing Corporation [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][26]
Disorder in the Court 1936 Preston Black Columbia Pictures 1960s[28] Copyright not renewed[28] Short film
Dixiana 1930 Luther Reed RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[38]
D.O.A. 1949 Rudolph Maté United Artists 1977 Copyright not renewed[45]
The Emperor Jones 1933 Dudley Murphy United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][46]
Father's Little Dividend 1951
(copyright notice: 1950)
Vincente Minnelli MGM 1978 Copyright not renewed[47]
A Farewell to Arms 1932 Frank Borzage Paramount Pictures 1960 Copyright not renewed[48] Based on the copyrighted (R177406) novel by Ernest Hemingway
Fear and Desire 1953 Stanley Kubrick Joseph Burstyn [data unknown/missing] Copyright not renewed[49]
The Flying Deuces 1939 A. Edward Sutherland RKO Radio Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][50]
The Front Page 1931 Lewis Milestone United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][51] Source material (the stage play The Front Page) rights under copyright until 2024[52]
Glen or Glenda 1953 Ed Wood Columbia Classics [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][53]
Go for Broke! 1951
(copyright notice: 1950)
Robert Pirosh MGM 1978 Copyright not renewed[47]
God's Little Acre 1958 Anthony Mann United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][54] The colorized version is not in the public domain[54]
The Gorilla 1939 Allan Dwan 20th Century Fox [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][55]
The Great Flamarion 1945 Anthony Mann Republic Pictures [data unknown/missing] Copyright not renewed[56]
Gulliver's Travels 1939 Dave Fleischer Paramount Pictures 1967 Copyright not renewed[57][58]
Half Shot at Sunrise 1930 Paul Sloane RKO Radio Productions 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
His Girl Friday 1940
(copyright date: 1939)
Howard Hawks Columbia Pictures 1967 Copyright not renewed[52] Source material (the stage play The Front Page) rights under copyright until 2024[52]
The Hitch-Hiker 1953 Ida Lupino RKO Radio Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][59]
Hook, Line and Sinker 1930 Edward F. Cline RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
House on Haunted Hill 1959 William Castle Allied Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][60][61]
Indestructible Man 1956 Jack Pollexfen Allied Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][62]
Inside the Lines 1930 Roy Pomeroy RKO Radio Productions 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
The Inspector General 1949 Henry Koster Warner Bros. [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][63]
It's a Wonderful Life 1946
(copyright notice: 1947)
Frank Capra Liberty Films
RKO Pictures
1975 Copyright not renewed[64] While the film images are public domain, under rulings of Stewart v. Abend, the film text (script) is based on the copyrighted short story "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern.[64][65][66]
Republic also purchased the exclusive rights to the film's copyrighted music to further shore up its rights.[67]
The Jackie Robinson Story 1950 Alfred E. Green Eagle-Lion Films [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][68] Ancillary rights owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Joe Louis Story 1953 Robert Gordon United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][69]
Kansas City Confidential 1952 Phil Karlson United Artists [data unknown/missing] Copyright not renewed[70]
Kept Husbands 1931 Lloyd Bacon RKO Radio Productions 1959 Copyright not renewed[23]
The Lady Refuses 1931 George Archainbaud RKO Radio Productions 1959 Copyright not renewed[23]
A Lady to Love 1930 Victor Sjöström MGM 1958 Copyright not renewed[15] Based on the play They Knew What They Wanted
The Last Man on Earth 1964 Ubaldo Ragona, Sidney Salkow American International Pictures, 20th Century Fox 1992[71] Copyright not renewed[71] Source novel I Am Legend (1954) is still under copyright.[72]
The Last Time I Saw Paris 1954
(copyright notice: 1944)
Richard Brooks MGM 1972 Copyright not renewed; Defective copyright notice resulted in earlier expiration[73] Music score still protected by copyright[74]
Lawful Larceny 1930 Lowell Sherman RKO Radio Productions 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
Leathernecking 1930 Edward F. Cline RKO Radio Productions 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
Letter of Introduction 1938 John M. Stahl Universal Pictures 1966 Copyright not renewed[75]
Life with Father 1947 Michael Curtiz Warner Bros. 1975 Copyright not renewed[76]
The Little Princess 1939 Walter Lang 20th Century Fox 1967 Copyright not renewed[64]
Little Shop of HorrorsThe Little Shop of Horrors 1960 Roger Corman Filmgroup 1988 Copyright not renewed[52][77]
Lonely Wives 1931 Russell Mack RKO Radio Pictures 1959 Copyright not renewed[23]
Love Affair 1939 Leo McCarey RKO Radio Pictures 1967 Copyright not renewed[15]
Love Laughs at Andy Hardy 1945 Willis Goldbeck MGM [data unknown/missing] Copyright not renewed[78]
The Lucky Texan 1934 Robert N. Bradbury Lone Star Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing].[25]
Made for Each Other 1939 John Cromwell United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][79]
Malice in the Palace 1949 Jules White Columbia Pictures 1960s[28] Copyright not renewed[28] Short film
The Man from Utah 1934 Robert N. Bradbury Lone Star Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing].[25]
The Man with the Golden Arm 1955 Otto Preminger United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][80] Based off the copyrighted novel by Nelson Algren
Maniac 1934 Dwain Esper Roadshow Attractions [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][81] Also known as Sex Maniac
Manos: The Hands of Fate 1966 Harold P. Warren Emerson Film Enterprises 1968 Failure to display copyright notice[82] Original script may have been copyrighted[82]
March of the Wooden Soldiers 1950 Gus Meins Lippert Pictures 1950 Failure to display copyright notice[34] This is a later abridgement of Babes in Toyland (1934), which is still in copyright. Its public domain status remains unclear.[34]
McLintock! 1963 Andrew V. McLaglen United Artists 1991 Copyright not renewed[83][84] Music score still under copyright[83]
Meet John Doe 1941 Frank Capra Warner Bros. 1969 Copyright not renewed[64]
Millie 1931 John Francis Dillon RKO Radio Pictures 1959 Copyright not renewed[23]
Mr. Imperium 1951
(copyright notice: 1950)
Don Hartman MGM 1978 Copyright not renewed[47]
My Dear Secretary 1948 Charles Martin United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][85]
My Favorite Brunette 1947 Elliott Nugent Paramount Pictures 1975 Copyright not renewed[18]
My Man Godfrey 1936 Gregory La Cava Universal Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][86] While the film images are public domain, under rulings of Stewart v. Abend, the film text (script) is based on the copyrighted 1935 book My Man Godfrey by Eric S. Hatch.[87]
Night of the Living Dead 1968 George A. Romero Walter Reade 1968 Missing copyright notice and errors from the distributor[88] The restored version released on home media by The Criterion Collection is under copyright by Image Ten, Inc. [89]
Nothing Sacred 1937 William A. Wellman Selznick,
United Artists
1965 Copyright not renewed[52]
Of Human Bondage 1934 John Cromwell RKO Radio Pictures 1962 Copyright not renewed[15]
One-Eyed Jacks 1961
(copyright notice:1960)
Marlon Brando Pennebaker Productions, Paramount Pictures 1988 Copyright not renewed[90][91]
Our Town 1940 Sam Wood United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][92]
The Outlaw 1943 Howard Hughes Howard Hughes Prod., United Artists 1971 Copyright not renewed[23]
The Painted Hills 1951 Harold F. Kress MGM 1979 Copyright not renewed[47]
The Pay-Off 1930 Lowell Sherman RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
Penny Serenade 1941 George Stevens Columbia Pictures 1968 Copyright not renewed[93]
Plan 9 from Outer Space 1959 Ed Wood Distributors Corporation of America 1987 [data unknown/missing][94]
Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves 1937 Dave Fleischer Paramount Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][16] The second of three Popeye Technicolor two-reel specials
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor 1936 Dave Fleischer Paramount Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][16] The first of three Popeye Technicolor two-reel specials
Pot o' Gold 1941 George Marshall United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][95]
Quicksand 1950 Irving Pichel United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][96]
Rage at Dawn 1955 Tim Whelan RKO Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][97]
Rain 1932 Lewis Milestone United Artists 1960 Copyright not renewed[18]
Randy Rides Alone 1934 Harry L. Fraser Lone Star Pictures 1934 Copyright notice lacks claimant[25]
The Red House 1947 Delmer Daves United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][98]
Reefer Madness 1936 Louis J. Gasnier Motion Picture Ventures 1936 Improper copyright notice[99][100] Also known as The Burning Question, Dope Addict and Tell Your Children
Riders of Destiny 1933 Robert N. Bradbury Lone Star Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing].[25]
Road to Bali 1952 Hal Walker Paramount Pictures 1980 Copyright not renewed[101][102] Ancillary rights now owned by FremantleMedia
Rock, Rock, Rock! 1956 Will Price Distributors Corporation of America 1984 Copyright not renewed[77] The Chuck Berry soundtrack of the film may not be in the public domain
The Royal Bed 1931
(copyright notice: 1930)
Lowell Sherman RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
Royal Wedding 1951
(copyright notice: 1950)
Stanley Donen MGM 1978 Copyright not renewed[47]
Sagebrush Trail 1933 Armand Schaefer Lone Star Pictures 1933 Copyright notice lacks claimant[103] Remake of Partners of the Trail (Wallace Fox, 1931)
Salt of the Earth 1954 Herbert Biberman Independent Productions 1982[104] Copyright not renewed[104] Selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1992[104]
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians 1964 Nicholas Webster Embassy Pictures Corporation [data unknown/missing] Missing copyright notice[105][106] Musical score owned by Famous Music
Santa Fe Trail 1940 Michael Curtiz Warner Bros. 1968 Copyright not renewed[107][108]
Scarlet Street 1945 Fritz Lang Universal Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][109][110]
The Screaming Skull 1958 Alex Nicol American International Pictures 1958 Not registered for copyright[111][20]
Second Chorus 1940 H.C. Potter Paramount Pictures [data unknown/missing] Copyright not renewed[112]
The Secret Hour 1928 Rowland V. Lee Paramount Pictures 1956 Copyright not renewed[15] Based on the play They Knew What They Wanted
The Silver Horde 1930 George Archainbaud RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
Sin Takes a Holiday 1930 Paul L. Stein RKO Radio Pictures 1958 Copyright not renewed[23]
Sing a Song of Six Pants 1947 Jules White Columbia Pictures 1960s[28] Copyright not renewed[28] Short film
Sinners in Paradise 1938 James Whale Universal Pictures 1966 Copyright not renewed[75]
Sita Sings the Blues 2008 Nina Paley GKIDS 2010 Released into the public domain with a CC0 license[113]
The Snows of Kilimanjaro 1952 Henry King 20th Century Fox [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][114] Based on the copyrighted novel by Ernest Hemingway
The Southerner 1945 Jean Renoir United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][115]
A Star Is Born 1937 William A. Wellman Selznick,
United Artists
1965 Copyright not renewed[48][52] 2022 restored version not in the public domain, and is copyrighted by Warner Bros., who holds all elements to the film (nitrate negative, screenplay, score, and remake rights). [116]
The Star Packer 1934 Robert N. Bradbury Lone Star Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing].[25]
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 1946 Lewis Milestone Paramount Pictures 1974 Copyright not renewed[18]
The Stranger 1946 Orson Welles International Pictures, RKO Radio Productions 1973 Copyright not renewed[117]
Suddenly 1954 Lewis Allen United Artists 1983 Copyright not renewed[118]
Superman (1940s cartoon series) 1941-1943 Dave Fleischer, various Paramount Pictures [data unknown/missing][119] [data unknown/missing][119] Ancillary rights such as merchandising contract rights, as well as the original 35mm master elements, are currently owned by Warner Bros. through Superman's publisher, DC Comics
Swing High, Swing Low 1937 Mitchell Leisen Paramount Pictures 1965 Copyright not renewed[15]
Teenagers from Outer Space 1959 Tom Graeff Warner Bros. 1987 Copyright not renewed[52]
The Terror 1963 Roger Corman American International Pictures, Filmgroup 1963 Missing copyright registration[120] In the early 1990s, Corman asked Mark Griffiths to shoot 12 minutes of additional footage starring Dick Miller, thus making a new film titled The Return of the Terror (1991), so Corman could claim his copyright.[121]
The Terror of Tiny Town 1938 Sam Newfield Columbia Pictures 1966 Copyright not renewed[122]
Three Guys Named Mike 1951
(copyright notice: 1950)
Charles Walters MGM 1978 Copyright not renewed[47]
Till the Clouds Roll By 1946 Richard Whorf MGM 1974 Copyright not renewed[47]
Too Late for Tears 1949 Byron Haskin United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][123]
Topper Returns 1941 Roy Del Ruth United Artists 1969 Copyright not renewed[77]
Utopia (a.k.a. Atoll K) 1951 Léo Joannon and John Berry (uncredited) Franco London Films 1951 No U.S. copyright filed [124]
Vengeance Valley 1951
(copyright notice: 1950)
Richard Thorpe MGM 1978 Copyright not renewed[47]
The Wasp Woman 1959 Roger Corman Filmgroup [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][125]
West of the Divide 1934 Robert N. Bradbury Lone Star Pictures [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing].[25]
White Zombie 1932 Victor Halperin United Artists [data unknown/missing] [data unknown/missing][126] The source material for the film may not be in the public domain[127]
Wives Under Suspicion 1938 James Whale Universal Pictures 1966 Copyright not renewed[75]

See also



  1. ^ "An Introduction to Films and Motion Pictures" at Archived October 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved August 4, 2009
  2. ^ Rich, Lloyd L. (1998). "Protection of Graphic Characters". The Publishing Law Center. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
  3. ^ Adler, Kenneth A. (October 1, 1999). "Using Dramatic Characters in Multimedia Works – Avoiding the Pitfalls". Thelen LLP. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Fishman (2010), p. 180.
  5. ^ Fishman (2010), p. 181.
  6. ^ Hirtle, Peter B. (October 4, 2010). "Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States". Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  7. ^ Film Superlist: Motion Pictures in the U.S. Public Domain (1940–1949), page xii.
  8. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Cumulative Series. Motion Pictures 1912-1939 (51,112 films), published in 1951. L.C. card, 51-60018. (copy)
  9. ^ "United States Copyright Office Public Catalog". Retrieved October 10, 2009.
  10. ^ "Copyright Notice". Copyright Registration and Renewal Information Chart and Web Site. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  11. ^ "Omission of Notice and Errors of Notice" (PDF). Circular 3: Copyright Notice. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Paolo Cherchi Usai (2008). The Griffith Project: Essays on D.W. Griffith. British Film Institute. p. 208. ISBN 9781844572687. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  13. ^ Bob Furmanek (February 6, 2004). "8 Abbott & Costello Films Coming!". Archived from the original on February 13, 2019. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  14. ^ John M. Miller, "Africa Screams, Home Video Reviews", Turner Classic Movies
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pierce (2007), pp. 131–134.
  16. ^ a b c Grandinetti, Fred (2004). Popeye: an illustrated cultural history. McFarland & Company. p. 125. ISBN 9780786416059.
  17. ^ Sullivan, Monica (1998). VideoHound's independent film guide. Visible Ink Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 1578590183.
  18. ^ a b c d e Pierce, David (March 29, 2001). Legal Limbo: How American Copyright Law Makes Orphan Films (mp3 in "file3"). Orphans of the Storm II: Documenting the 20th Century. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  19. ^ Erickson, Hal (2012). Military Comedy Films: A Critical Survey and Filmography of Hollywood Releases Since 1918. McFarland. ISBN 68
  20. ^ a b c Smith, Gary A. (2009). The American International Pictures video guide. McFarland & Company. p. 8. ISBN 9780786433094.
  21. ^ Thompson, Nathaniel. "The Bat". Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  22. ^ Bailey, Jason (February 15, 2017). "A New Cut and Restoration Reframes Bogart and Huston's Strangest Film". Flavorwire. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Pierce (2007), pp. 140–143.
  24. ^ Slide, Anthony (2013). Nitrate Won't Wait: A History of Film Preservation in the United States. McFarland. ISBN 9781476604572.[page needed]
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  26. ^ a b Lennig, Arthur (2003). The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi. The University Press of Kentucky. p. 465. ISBN 9780813143767.
  27. ^ a b Nathaniel Thompson, "Cult Movies, The Brain that Wouldn't Die", Turner Classic Movies
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h Hogan, David (2011). Three Stooges FAQ: Everything Left to Know about the Eye-Poking, Face-Slapping, Head-Thumping Geniuses. Applause Theatre and Cinema Books. ISBN 9781557839329.
  29. ^ Coffel, Chris (November 24, 2015). "HOME VIDEO[Blu-ray Review] 'A Bucket of Blood' is a Bucket of Fun!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  30. ^ Edgerton, Gary R.; Rollins, Peter C. (2015). Television Histories: Shaping Collective Memory in the Media Age. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 274
  31. ^ Blake, Marc (2013). Writing the Horror Movie. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p. 91. ISBN 9781441193476.
  32. ^ "Papers of Herk Harvey". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
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  34. ^ a b c d Pierce (2007), p. 130.
  35. ^ Online search results for keywords "Henry Mancini Charade", from US Copyright Office.
  36. ^ The original story basis for Charade is The Unsuspecting Wife by Peter Stone and Marc Behm, which appeared in the July 1961 issue of Redbook magazine. The copyright to the story was renewed by Stone in 1989 (see source: David Pierce (2007), Note #20, pg. 141).
  37. ^ Axmaker, Sean (July 11, 2016). "Videophiled Noir III: 'Try and Get Me' and the 1946 'The Chase' restored". Cinephiled. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  38. ^ a b Pierce (2007), p. 137.
  39. ^ Zuckerman, Faye (March 23, 1985). "Prism Into Public Domain: 24 Film Classics Set for Release". Billboard. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  40. ^ Marianne Gray (1991). Depardieu. Sinclair-Stevenson, Limited. p. 160. ISBN 9781856190954. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  41. ^ Hal Erickson (May 10, 2013), "New DVDs, Peckinpah's Deadly Companions and Major Dundee", New York Times
  42. ^ M & A Associates v. VCX, 657 F.Supp. 454, conclusions: 27 (United States District Court April 8, 1987) ("Although Arno asked Weisberg for copyright protection of the film in early 1979, Weisberg first became aware of the legal significance of the omission of the copyright notice from the film in January of 1981. Weisberg thus received "notice" of the defect at that latter date. See M. Kramer Mfg. Co. v. Andrews, 783 F.2d 421, 443 & n. 21 (4th Cir. 1986). Weisberg's failure to take reasonable [657 F.Supp. 463] efforts resulted in the film being irretrievably injected into the public domain "several months" later.").
  43. ^ Miller, Jeffrey (2002). Ardor in the Court!: Sex and the Law. ECW Press. p. 152. ISBN 1-55022-528-6.
  44. ^ Herzogenrath, Bernd (2009). The Films of Edgar G. Ulmer. Scarecrow Press. p. 151. ISBN 9780810867369.
  45. ^ Researching the Copyright Status of a Work from Copyright Registration and Renewal Information Chart and Web Site
  46. ^ Slide, Anthony (2013). Nitrate Won't Wait: A History of Film Preservation in the United States. McFarland. ISBN 9781476604572.[page needed]
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  48. ^ a b Pierce (2007), pp. 134–137.
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  50. ^ The Flying Deuces (1939).
  51. ^ Ladwig, Samantha (September 5, 2017). "30 Hollywood Classics Streaming for Free in the Public Domain". Retrieved March 10, 2018. ... with the first being the 1931 Lewis Milestone–directed The Front Page, which also fell into the public domain.
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  53. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywoods Worst. Hachette Book Group. ISBN 9780446510080.
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  55. ^ Brotherton, Jamie; Okuda, Ted (2013). Dorothy Lee: The Life and Films of the Wheeler and Woolsey Girl. McFarland. ISBN 152
  56. ^ Peros, Mike (2016). Dan Duryea: Heel with a Heart. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781496809933. The Great Flamarion is among Duryea's more visible efforts because it fell into the public domain when the original copyright lapsed.[page needed]
  57. ^ John M. Miller, "Mr. Bug Goes to Town aka Hoppity Goes to Town", Turner Classic Movies
  58. ^ David Kehr (March 6, 2009). "Classics From Disney and a Lilliputian Competitor". New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
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  62. ^ Nathaniel Thompson, "The Indestructible Man, Cult Movies", Turner Classic Movies
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  65. ^ Cox, Stephen. It's a Wonderful Life: A Memory Book. Nashville, Tennessee: Cumberland House, 2003. 115. Print. ISBN 1-58182-337-1. Copyright of the short story, The Greatest Gift, expires after 2038, 95 years after publication.
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  69. ^ Deane, Pamela S. (2009). James Edwards: African American Hollywood Icon. McFarland. ISBN 82
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  82. ^ a b THE BATTLE OVER THE WORST MOVIE EVER Archived December 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine accessed October 3, 2015
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  86. ^ Esther Rita Sinofsky (1988). A copyright primer for educational and industrial media producers. Copyright Information Services. p. 29. ISBN 9780914143123. Retrieved January 20, 2016. But remember the underlying works may still be copyrighted
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  88. ^ Night of the Living Dead entered the public domain because the original theatrical distributor, the Walter Reade Organization, neglected to place a copyright indication on the prints. In 1968, United States copyright law required a proper notice for a work to maintain a copyright. See U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 92, Copyright Law of the United States of America, Chapter 4: Copyright Notice, Deposit, and Registration, Omission of notice on certain copies and phonorecords. Image Ten displayed such a notice on the title frames of the film beneath its original title, Night of the Flesh Eaters, but the distributor removed the statement when it changed the title. See Boluk, Stephanie; Lenz, Wylie (June 16, 2011). "Introduction: Generation Z, the Age of Apocalypse". In Boluk, Stephanie; Lenz, Wylie (eds.). Generation Zombie: Essays on the Living Dead in Modern Culture. Jefferson, North Carolina, US: McFarland & Company. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-7864-6140-0. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  89. ^ "Night Of The Living Dead (1968) - Criterion Collection'". High-Def Digest. February 26, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
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  92. ^ Shales, Tom (May 24, 2003). "Showtime's 'Our Town': Newman's Own". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2019. Sadly, the movie slipped between the cracks and into the public domain, and there now appear to be no decent prints left in existence.
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  114. ^ Hicks, Chris (March 8, 2007). "DVD reviews: Oldies make their DVD debut". Deseret News. Retrieved June 16, 2013. The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952, color) has injured writer Gregory Peck going over his past to see if his life has meaning, with Ava Gardner and Susan Hayward. This one has been on many public-domain labels, but this is a pristine print and looks gorgeous.
  115. ^ King, Susan (February 24, 1991). "How Hollywood Dealt with Great Depression". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
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  119. ^ a b Rossen, Jake (2008). Superman Vs. Hollywood: How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded an American Icon. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781569765012.
  120. ^ Ray, Fred Olen (1991). The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 51. ISBN 9780899506289.
  121. ^ Stevens, Brad (2003). Monte Hellman: His Life and Films. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 34. ISBN 9780786481880.
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