Video Sundays: Gems of the Public Domain—William Dickson's "Dickson Experimental Sound Film"

Simply put, American copyright law states that once the copyright of a film expires, it then enters what is known as the public domain, meaning that it is common property. Unbeknownst to many, these films are incredibly easy to find on video streaming platforms like YouTube, or even as MP4 files across the web. That is, so long as you know which films to find (and it is worth noting that these are predominantly classic and silent films). There are lists of accessible titles by using information from copyright catalogs, like this list from Mubi and the website Public Domain Movies. However, as the Pratt Library very straightforwardly puts it, "there is no definitive 'slam dunk' certainty or official list when it comes to the question of whether a film is in the public domain," and therefore these lists may only serve as a general nod in the right direction.
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