One frequent source of discussion here on Screen-L has been how to
determine the copyright holder of a film or TV program.  The US Library of
Congress has just made available a new tool for tracking down such
information, but for film/TV scholars/historians it has one major
limitation:  It only covers copyrights registered since 1978.

Still, it is pretty interesting to browse through, although it sometimes
provides surprising results.  E.g., a search for "Citizen Kane" turned up
the following (below).

P.S.  I've also attached a CNET story on the new service.

---------- Citizen Kane copyright ---------

Registration Number:    VA-783-822
Title:    Citizen Kane : no. 62882.
Description:    Textile.
Claimant:    acSunbury Textile Mills, Inc.
Created:    1996
  Published:    2May96
  Registered:    9Aug96
  Special Codes:   5/S

---------- CNET Article ------------

Online search tool finds copyright owners
By John Borland
Staff Writer, CNET
June 4, 2001, 1:20 p.m. PT

The U.S. Copyright Office has launched a Web tool to help identify who owns
copyrights to movies, books and other works.

The massive database serves as a foundation of solid information for an
issue that has grown to be increasingly controversial online over the last
year. Napster and other file-swapping services have increased the tension
over the limits of traditional copyright law online, sparking debates that
are still playing themselves out in court.

As a simpler replacement to an earlier, outdated search tool, the Copyright
Office's new service won't shift any of the power balances between
copyright holders and their critics online. But it will serve as a faster
way to figure out exactly who owns the copyright of any given work that
somebody might wish to download or trade online.

The office has played a quiet role in the debates over online music and
other works that have punctuated the digital landscape for the last several

It has a central role in determining how much music Webcasters can play on
their online radio stations, and in how much the companies have to pay for
the rights. This has been a contentious issue for several years and is now
in arbitration in front of copyright authorities.

The office also submitted a brief in the Napster trial, disagreeing with
that company's argument that people trading songs online without permission
weren't violating copyright law.

The new copyright-finding tool covers works that have been registered since
1978. The office said that more than 13 million search terms are included,
although this covers considerable duplication of works.

Jeremy Butler
[log in to unmask]
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