High School Hell Cats, and other assorted mashup learning resources from the Internet Archive

I find myself constantly going back to the Internet Archive, and constantly being blown away by what I find. Now, maybe I am biased towards video, and obsess over all things film history. I have been registering several people’s interest in mashups from various angles, Doug Symington was wondering about the curricular possibilities here and Tony Hirst imagines through the process of finding resources here. I believe some of the more immediate brewing interest comes in the wake of Brian’ Lamb’s masterful presentation at the NMC Mashups Symposium (or as Samuel Beckett might say, in the wake of the Wake). A presentation that both Alan Levine and Chris Lott do an excellent job of framing here and here. More recently (as in this morning 🙂 ) I discovered randy Thornton’s post about “The Adventures of Bollywood Blackboardwala,” a great series of short videos that use subtitling to turn these Bollywood clips into a hilarious narrative about BlackBoard’s draconian business practices. Very fun stuff.

So, with mashups in the air, I do what I always do, return to the Internet Archive and find resources I want to mashup, but never get around to —but this will change! The other night while thinking through a project I will be working on with a forward thinking Italian professor, I came across over 100 classic film trailers on the Internet Archives in the SabuCat Movie Trailers Collection. And, I had a ball, I found the original, hi-resolution version of the High School Hell Cats trailer (a version of which is linked to above on YouTube). There was also the Babes in Toyland (1934) trailer — a Laurel and Hardy classic for the ages which I always knew by the title March of the Wooden Soldiers. And then there’s Attack of the 50 ft. Woman (1958), Double Indemnity (1944), Invasion U.S.A. (1952), the Harryhausen classic Twenty Million Miles to Earth (1957), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and a truly bizarre trailer for a film I never saw (but I am dying to now) titled Baby Doll (1956), check out this trailer (and fair warning it is offensive on numerous levels).

So, given this list you might figure I’d said enough, and by all counts you would be right, ‘cept my own. After watching a bunch of these trailers, I followed a link to the SabuCat Collection which promised over 60,000 film trailers. When I got there I realized that they were a business that offered high-resolution transfers from 35mm prints of thousands of movie trailers. I was a bit disappointed, figuring I had just hit the online movie trailer El Dorado.

Yet, all was not lost, for there was some interesting information I found on the site that made the trip out of the Internet Archive a bit less distressful to my psyche. Namely the following copyright information regarding movie trailers that I was unaware of:

Can I use Trailers without being concerned over Copyright? Within certain limits, yes. Here’s the story…

Trailers for movies released before 1964 are in the Public Domain because they were never separately copyrighted. The law at the time granted the owner 28 years to file a copyright registration.

1963 + 28 = 1991

Clearly, time has run out to register this material. Some might argue that since the trailers frequently contain the same material that’s in the movie, and the movie is presumably copyrighted, that this would cover the trailer as well. However, the trailer is published (run in a theater) before the movie itself is published. Thus, the trailer requires a separate copyright, and the scenes contained in the trailer are in Public Domain.

Note that all trailers, regardless of year, until the late 80’s, are O.K. to use if they contain no copyright notice. This does occur, although infrequently. For example, the trailer for “The Shootist” (John Wayne, 1976) contains no notice. It is therefore O.K. to use.

According to the couple that runs SabuCat, a majority of the trailers for movies made before 1964 are in the public domain. That’s a lot of film footage free to be mashedup by the people. Moreover, if a film up and until the late 1980s doesn’t have a copyright notice it is free to use, I wonder if anyone has done the research to find out which films since 1964 have the copyright notice, and which one’s don’t.

So, it seems like there is a tremendous amount of footage out there pre-1964 9and otherwise) that is free for the mashing up. Now that’s Open Education!

Now it’s time to work on a presentation for Faculty Academy 2008 (inspired by DJ Lamb) that tries to imagine how faculty might use these resources, which means I get to play and have fun —thanks go to Brian for the inspiration and Martha for the license!

This entry was posted in experimenting, film, film noir, films, fun, open education and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.