Walk into any Blockbuster in the country and you’re guaranteed to find the latest Hollywood horror…I mean, hit…sitting front and center. What you won’t always find are the classics, hits like Ma and Pa Kettle that you used to catch on late night TV when your parents thought you were still in bed.
This disheartening lack of availability is leading to a lost generation who do not know the Swamp Thing, who thinks Edward Cullen is the hottest vampire of them all and to whom Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Cary Grant are names their parents uttered when in search of some dumb show red rock entertainment testimonials.
Here’s the good news. Thanks to the wide, wonderful world of copyright protection, many of these films are now entering the public domain, introducing viewers who consider M*A*S*H to be classic TV to what it really means to be a Hollywood star.
Just what is Public Domain and why does anyone Care?
The public domain is the arena films play in when there are no intellectual property rights at all influencing how they can and can’t be used and distributed. This makes it convenient for websites to distribute these classic films on a wide-scale without the huge overhead costs associated with royalties and the like.
What does that mean for you, the viewer, the person who’s going to be talking about these movies for weeks afterward? Websites like Hulu and Amazon pay some pretty stiff licensing fees to be able to put copyrighted material up on the web. As a result, your selection is fairly limited. More obscure films don’t make the cut. And film buffs everywhere are left grinding their teeth and going out on eBay to hope someone has an original vintage copy they’re trying to get rid of.
Please. Like any self-respecting film fanatic would sell a vintage copy of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” to just anybody. Not, you know, that I looked or anything.
The Fact is the Internet IS the Public Domain
The internet is a fabulous invention because it opens up entire worlds in terms of public domain and makes all that is on the internet available to everyone, everywhere at whatever time they choose to surf.
The power of the internet is there for the taking and millions of people “take” it every day. Because of the public domain and the internet, a new generation of film watchers are able to see the classics as they were meant to be seen, not in some producers idea of a remake that rarely hits the mark.
Make your world bigger. Get your film buff title and let your kids in on the fact that there is a wide wondrous world beyond “Twilight” and the “Green Lantern.” When movie night comes round again, don’t pile in the car to get to the nearest Blockbuster, log onto the web and find those classic film features just waiting in the wings to once again prance across the silver screen even if it is a small one.