The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Happy Halloween of Copyright Infringement

The 1922 German film Nosferatu (in full above) is now in the public domain, and may be used without permission. Ironically, the classic film itself did just that, so blatantly ripping off Bram Stoker's novel Dracula that Florence Stoker sued, and won an order that every print of the film be destroyed:
The court’s order was followed with amazing thoroughness. All prints of the movie were destroyed, that is, save one.

One print found its way to the United States. Since Dracula was already in the public domain there, there was no way to have a U.S. court order its destruction.

It is from that print that every copy of the film existing today was made.
As someone who is continuing the work of a long-dead author--one that is in the public domain, as are the handful of supporting cast members I have imported from elsewhere--I can feel the pain of F.W. Murnau being told that his work is so derivative as to be a violation of the rights of authorship, insufficiently original to have a justified separate existence. Every creative person's nightmare, really...

Of course, as Murnau did to Stoker, others have done to Murnau:

The game, in short, continues...

Happy Halloween!

No comments: