In reply to Geraldine Peters:

The fact that a film might be 'public domain' in the US means absolutely
nothing in relation to rights issues relating to exhibition in other

Each country has its own copyright laws, and the rights to the same film
can be (and often are) owned by different individuals and/or
organisations in different countries.

My understanding of the US 'public domain' legislation is vague, to put
it mildly.  But unless I'm way off the mark it provides that copyright
in a film lapses from an owner after a set period of time and under
certain circumstances, and thereafter it can be publicly exhibited
without any fee being payable in respect of the screening rights.  I'm
sure other readers of this list would be able to give a far more useful

However, you'll have to find out who the New Zealand rights holder is
for the film you wish to show.  If, as is sometimes the case with very
old titles, this turns out to be utterly untraceable, then the ball is
in the archive's court.  The policy of the UK National Film and
Television Archive in these circumstances is that the curator can agree
to release a print against a 'letter of indemnity' - i.e. the exhibitor
indemnifies the archive against the consequences of any legal action
being taken by a legitimate rights owner following the print's use.

But, to reiterate - you need to know what the NZ legal position is and
if at all possible to secure the permission of the rights owner.


Leo Enticknap
York, UK
Tel. 07710 417383; e-mail [log in to unmask]

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