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Discussion in 'High Definition' started by The Chaostar, Oct 28, 2008.
Check it out
The remark about there being cropping on all four sides makes me suspect that this is the Weinsteins transfer. That would also explain why a public domain film would be region encoded.
That's a great looking transfer. Here's hoping the Region A disc is even better.
Ok, I could have chosen many different forums to post this, but I chose this one. Interestingly enough, I said I wouldn't buy any versions of NOTLD on blu-ray unless they were legit. Well, I ended up buying the Network, Optimum (region B locked), Happinet (Japanese), Forgotten Films and Omega Man Blu-rays. These go well with the six versions I have on DVD. Still, these Blu-ray's are flawed. Either they are heavily cropped or missing footage. I discovered on Blu-ray.com that a member (vidjunkie) corrected the best looking of the bunch (Forgotten Films) by reinserting the missing footage (such as "It's hot in here, hot."). I PM'd him requesting a BDR copy of his creation. In trade, I sent him the extremely rare Zombieland (Nut Up or Shut Up) Exclusive Best Buy Blu-ray. I received the copy of NOTLD today and I cannot believe how perfect it is. Another member on Blu-ray.com (Atari Charles) has a copy as well and he also said that it is the best version available (http://forum.blu-ray.com/5463711-post406.html). I received vidjunkie's permission to post this here so anyone that was interested to trade can contact him over there (no cash - trades only). I cannot trade with anyone because I don't have a Blu-ray burner and I will be buried with my copy. I hope this helps for all those that are as nuts about this movie as I am. Ask away if you have any questions.
It's sad that a legit blu-ray hasn't been put out yet in the US.
Thanks buck135, like I said in the PM at blu-ray.com, I am glad you like it, this is my first post here and this site seems pretty cool, I never knew of it, looks like I have some reading to do
That's what pisses me off to no extent. It's not like there's rights issues to be purchased. The movie is PUBLIC FUCKING DOMAIN! It's one of the most popular and legendary horror films ever made, yet no company has interest in doing this film justice even when after you factor in the costs of mastering the print, it's all profit after that. I must seriously be missing something here. Can someone please explain to me why no company has any interest is releasing Night of the Living Dead when far shittier films whose licensing rights have to actually be purchased are getting much better treatment?!
I wish I was a decision maker at Criterion. A Blu-Ray version released from them would rule the world.
I have the forgotton films blu and I am quite happy with it.
Yes this version is by far the best in quality, but it is missing 30+ seconds in it, but I fixed this version by adding back in the 30+ seconds, this is what buck135 was mentioning above, so I am completely happy with my fixed version until something better comes along, but this is highly doubtful or we would have had a great US release by now, but who knows.
The fact that it is public domain would give the company who paid for the remastering practically no legal recourse if people started ripping the transfer and releasing their own versions. When you pay for the rights to a film you get an exclusive license to distribute it on a given format, and the ability to legally go after those who try and distribute competing versions. If a film is PD, though, you're out of luck, because you can't copyright a film transfer unless you've changed something (i.e., adding new sound effects, music, colorizing, substantially re-framing the image), thus creating a new version. So ironically, the cause of preserving a public domain film as close as possible to its original version works against its preservation, because presenting a movie in that original version makes it impossible to have any copyright protection. So a company could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new restoration, put their Blu on the market for $29.95 and then a few months later see some fly by night company selling their restored version for $6.99 at Costco or something like that.
I have heard that ONE EYED JACKS, another high profile PD title, is stuck in this predicament. The original vault materials to the title are owned by Paramount, but restoring it is very low on its priority list because of the fear that their transfer will be ripped off. Seen in this context, the efforts of companies like Criterion, which has bit the bullet and put out great versions of PD titles like CHARADE and CARNIVAL OF SOULS, are all the more commendable.
Very well said, this is exactly why I took it upon myself to buy the best version available(Forgotten Films) and then fix it to make it perfect, because I certainly am not holding my breath for a be all, end all US release.
Reportedly the video transfers are copyrighted to those that create them, it's just not something that's been challenged in court. That's what my boss at a cable station told me at least.
I've been contemplating getting the Forgotten Films release, but Synapse Films is rumored to be working on an even newer transfer of NotLD since the Weinsteins transfer is cropped. Either way I think Romero and co. will come out with one eventually.
Well that actually makes sense Jeremy and I appreciate you taking the time to explain that. I just can't understand why, if a company pays to restore a public domain film, that they then wouldn't own the copyright to the specific print that they paid to have remastered. If only a company like Lionsgate, who just put out a special features packed, remastered Evil Dead II blu and sold it for $10 could do the same for Night of the Living Dead then not only would assholes be less inclined to spend the time and money to put together a featureless half-assed release just to sell for a few dollars cheaper, but I could die a happy man. If Synapse actually released a definitive NOTLD blu-ray, as if I didn't love them already, I would pull janitorial duties at their offices for free on my spare time.
I don't doubt that there are people out there trying to pull that trick off. It may even work, depending on which court it ultimately goes to. But until someone makes an issue of it the matter will have a lot of abstract legal reasoning associated with it.
You do see examples of public domain films being pulled back into copyright. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE was in the public domain, and now it's considered copyrighted again through ass backwards legal reasoning that is impossible to briefly summarize. More recently you've seen Fred Olen Ray try to re-establish copyright on some of the public domain films put out by Retromedia by adding sound effects to movies like THE EYE CREATURES, thus making the new version eligible for copyright.
There is a court case that did tackle this issue - and I'm reaching way back into my memory here, so I could be wrong on the details - and it started with John Wayne's MCLINTOCK, which went into the public domain because an ownership dispute made it impossible for either party to renew the copyright registration. During the VHS era Goodtimes Home Video ended up releasing MCLINTOCK on tape. Goodtimes was a legitimate enough outfit that I believe they had done a deal with someone to create an authorized version of it, but other companies were creating even cheaper knock-offs from their release and saying they could get away with it because the film was in the public domain.
MCLINTOCK was a 2.35:1 film, and the Goodtimes release was cropped to full screen. When the issue went to court their lawyer made the case that by cropping it they had made a major artistic change and thus had created a new version eligible for copyright. The court agreed.
They could create a new version protected by copyright if they made noticeable changes to the film. Suppose someone wanted to create a protected version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. There would be many different changes they could make. For instance, they could freeze frame an image from the end credits and roll new credits over it. They could re-dub the voice of a minor character with a new actor. They could create a new sound mix with altered or missing music and dialogue cues. They could replace the library music with new compositions. They could colorize it.
I mention all these examples because they are all examples of changes made to various movies on DVD and VHS that have been poorly received by fans. In the VHS days, Ted Turner's colorizations were derided by scores of film lovers, and Orion Home Video released a huge number of old AIP flicks with altered music scores. Tarman's voice in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD was altered, the credits of DEEP RED were freeze-framed, SUSPIRIA had its soundtrack messed up. The point I'm trying to make here is that the type of changes that would definitely allow someone to establish a new copyright on their transfer are not the type of changes that we fans would accept. We want everything exactly as it's always been - same footage, same music, same sound effects. And if you don't change anything - if you present almost 100% the same version that was released in 1968, the same version that is in the public domain - you don't really have grounds for claiming copyright on it.
It makes sense that a transfer is its own separate copyright from the intellectual rights owners. If Synapse Films were to do the transfer for NotLD let's say, and Weinsteins decided not to pay or broke contract somehow, Synapse would be in their legal right to withhold that transfer from the Weinsteins. Weinsteins couldn't sue and say they should own the transfer because they own the film. The transfer itself is owned by whoever creates it and must be licensed or sold.
It's the same reasoning for why Don May Jr. is able to own the original Halloween negatives, make digital transfers of them and screen them in private. All perfectly legal. Halloween's owners cannot claim owner ship to the transfers anymore than they can to the negatives they left on the curb. What he could not do is take the film's alternate takes, reconstruct Halloween and sell the alternate version. He does not own the narrative to Halloween to legally allow that.
My understanding is that the soundtrack is the lynchpin to that legal turn around. If one were to re-dub or even present a silent version of the film they could get away with that. Although after reading the Wiki they might have to do a What's Up, Tiger Lily? on it as the narrative appears to be copyrighted as well.
Ironically its fate is the exact opposite of NotLD's. NotLD's narrative was never copyrighted and its soundtrack was made up of library music (much of which is in the public domain or cheaply acquired). This apparently is why people can remake the film without legal reprimand.
The same is mostly true of King Kong, which was published as a book shortly before its premiere. Because they book was not properly copyrighted much of the story and characters are considered public domain even if the film and its imagery are not. Universal, ever the tried and true corporation, first sued to prove this and then shortly tried to sue to prove the exact opposite.
So by that theory I wonder why George Romero hasn't gone back to make a few minor tweaks here and there to re-establish copyright to his film.
It's best to leave the film the way it is and let either Criterion or Anchor Bay release a decent/ultimate release.