The Spirit of Copyright

Klaus Harms harms313 at
Fri Feb 2 14:54:15 CET 2001


> Betreff: spirit of 43
> Von: Ola Martinsson <Ola.Martinsson at>
> Maybe it's not so funny that this one is public domain. After all it was
> probably made as an order for the US government/treasury and I suppose
> that means that they (the customer ) owns the rights to the film. Maybe
> this applies to all the films that were made for customers instead for
> the Disney studio themselves.

"The Spirit of 43" was made for the US treasury department, so the
copyright was on their behalf. Copyrights at that time were valid for 28
years, and then could be re-newed for another 28-year period. The
renewal of the copyright of the "Spirit" film was apparently never cared
of. On copyright in general, I quote an entry from the "Termite Terrace"
message board

> Originally, a film could be copyrighted for a period of 28 years. At 
> that point, the current copyright owner could renew for a second 28 
> year period. After that, the
> film would pass into the public domain. 
> Changes to copyright law were made in the late 1970s that extended 
> that second renewal period to 75 years. It has since been extended to 
> 95 years. The changes
> were made largely due to pressure from the Hollywood studios, who 
> realized that in the 1980s their sound film libraries would, 
> year-by-year, begin to lose copyright
> protection. With both home video and cable television greatly 
> increasing demand for old movies, studios had no desire to give up 
> their exclusive hold on those vaults
> full of film they owned. 

Ola Martinsson continues:
> I know that there also was another film that had to do with taxes made
> with Donald. I think it's called The new spirit. Was this one also made
> during the war ?

The US treasury department is/was the copyright owner of "The New
Spirit" (made in 1941) also. Perhaps it is in the public domain, too,
but I have no information on that.
There is a long list of public domain classic cartoons (virtually all
"Betty Boop" cartoons from Fleischer, all "Flip the Frog" by Ub Iwerks,
and many pre-1945 Warner Brothers cartoons, among them many wartime
films like "The Ducktators", "Scrap Happy Daffy", "Tokio Jokio", and
"Daffy the Commando"). Digitalized movies of these types have appeared
on the web in the past, and presumably will continue to do so.
It seems that the Disney Company itself failed to renew copyrights for
some of their regular films also, including "The Mad Doctor" (dir.:
David Hand, 1933) and "Mickey's Yoo-Hoo" (Iwerks, 1929) (digitalized
versions of both films are currently available elsewhere on the net, but
both in very poor quality).


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