Let's say, someone produces a documentary about atomic bombs. Included in the piece is actual raw footage of a bomb exploding, and that clip was obtained through a public release by the government (American).
The section I'm interested in has no marks, bugs, lower thirds, etc. It's clean.
Would that section (clip) be public domain if I took it from the documentary? Rather than searching for the source myself, since I may or may not find it readily?
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Thread: Copyright Question
And I'll say the opposite:
Don't ask permission, they'll just jerk you around and waste your time and money.
Just use it and if they should call you on it, (unlikely) say simply that it is public domain and if they have a problem ask them to prove otherwise.
But if you're worried about it; go to the government and get it directly. It would be a lot less hassle than trying to get permission from a private company that thinks they own it.
Or have a look at archive.org.
Atomic bomb footage was shot by the military, and thus, the visual portion of a clip would be public domain. However, if the clip was colorized or enhanced in some other way by a production house, they may claim exclusive rights to that process. Also, a lot of military footage (atomic bomb blasts, combat action, etc.) prior to the Vietnam war was shot MOS, and the sound effects of a documentary film may be unique to the producer. Thus, the audio portion would not be public domain. A producer might also claim rights to the manner in which public domain clips were edited.
My company has purchased a great deal of footage from the government, only to find that many of the film-to-video transfers were appalling. We have also found 16mm films on Ebay that contained many identical scenes, and have used them to get better transfers of those public domain scenes, taking care not to use the soundtracks or editing styles of those films from which the scenes were derived. No one has challenged our methods.
Someone once said it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. It's not true in every case, but I think it will work for you here.
We are NOT lawyers here. My best friend is one and he's taught me a lot about the law. I can tell you if you live in the USA and your excerpt is short enough, it MIGHT (depends on the court) fall under "fair use". A few years ago Yoko Ono sued a film producer over a film that used an excerpt of John Lennon's "Imagine" (I don't remember the name of the film, but it was on a conservative subject she did not agree with) and she lost. But all bets are off in court and anything could happen. But if the excerpt is very short, you probably can argue "fair use" and not have to do anything else.
AlanHK is right and if you start asking for permission someone is going to want to get paid. And you would not believe how much money it will cost you for even excerpts. "Malcolm In The Middle" has never had the final 6 seasons released on home video because the producers failed to get clearance for music for home video when the show was on TV and most episodes contain 10-60 second excerpts of various popular songs. The rights holders want unreal amounts of money for songs that aren't even played completely. Many recent documentary people have complained about rights owners refusing to release very small music or video excerpts without being paid $100,000+ and the documentary isn't even expected to make that kind of money ever in total. Many documentary makers fear going to court over fair use because, again, anything could happen. One judge might say 10 seconds is fine and another one say that 10 seconds is too long for fair use. There are no rules in law specifying what exactly is fair use so it's up to the judges to decide. And many industry people are afraid to argue for fair use because they don't want to win and then have it used against them later on THEIR products. Or they fear getting a crazy judge (they do exist) who will find against them and they suffer financial ruin as a result.
I went to archive.gov, and it's the typical government mess and runaround like their other sites. I found like three videos only when I searched "atomic explosion" and none of them are even close to useable, just some crap they threw out to make it look like they're doing something.
Even the crappy videos you can't download, the URL goes to a player page.
Well, I looked around on YT, and seems quite a few others have purloined their footage from the same documentary. So I "gaussed" it up a little to camouflage it.
right...make it unique by colorizing it yourself
try a URL sniffer to find the video's address before it's inserted into a playerAuthor, Producer, Composer, Director - Sony HDV, Konica SLR, LG BD burner
Handcoder: HTML, PHP, JS, CSS - In Production: Busker Alley - The Movie
Actually if you change it by colorizing it or making some other sort of visibile modification it can help you to meet the definition of "fair use" so I'd suggest you consider doing that. One of the legal guidelines for fair use is if the work is modified from the original.
And you certainly can download anything from their site.
What is the URL of the video you wanted?
I reiterate: just use the footage you wanted, but take care not to use any music or sound or visual effects they may have added. Most of the excerpt horror stories are about music.
OR: Look carefully at their credits and see if they acknowledge the source of the video and contact them.
In this instance, the OP has no worries.