I don't know of any 100% accurate lists and there are a lot of inaccurate ones around. One thing to be, very, very careful of is non-US films. Under the terms of the GATT treaty literally thousands of film were retroactively copyrighted and even those where no rights holder has yet to file for can still be
"GATTED". Any film released prior to 1923 is PD, but specific versions of those films can get a "special contents" copyright for the score, titles etc. I think it safe to day that about 99% of major studio films are still under copyright, but a few slipped through and a lot of independent or small company films were not renewed and hence fell into the public domain.

I wish there were a simple answer but again no alleged list of PD films is correct and some are very wrong and have lead to some major legal action against people who thought they were. I believe there is a way to do a title by title search on the Library of Congress data base, but remember underlying rights (story, music) can also bite you in the ass.

Good Luck

Jessica Rosner

-----Original Message-----
>From: Jonathan Nichols-pethick <[log in to unmask]>
>Sent: Aug 26, 2010 7:56 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: [SCREEN-L] Question about films in the public domain
>I recently came across a list of films that appear to be in the public
>domain (though some of the titles seem doubtful).  Does anyone know of a
>reliable source that can help me verify some of these titles?  Many thanks.
>Jonathan Nichols-Pethick
>Associate Professor of Media Studies
>Dept. of Communication & Theatre
>Director of Film Studies
>DePauw University
>Greencastle, IN 46135
>(765) 658-5095
>Learn to speak like a film/TV professor! Listen to the ScreenLex

Learn to speak like a film/TV professor! Listen to the ScreenLex