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Public Domain Movies (publicdomainflix.com)
351 points by DanielleMolloy 78 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments



Most of those are on the Internet Archive.[1] Often in better versions. The Private Snafu cartoons are from some commercial DVD with watermarks. The originals are online from the National Archives, and they're better.

A useful project would be to take the MPEG 2 versions from the Internet Archive, apply modern cleanup, scratch removal, frame alignment, and exposure equalization techniques, and put those up. The MPEG 2 versions have no frame to frame compression, which is good for archival purposes. Cleanup technology has improved since most of those were scanned.

[1] https://archive.org/details/feature_films


Most people here know that they are on the Internet Archive. I personally don't like their interface, and their wider movie collection [1] is mingled with a lot of other material (TV ads, speedruns and machinima?). The IA is more about creating a complete historical collection than providing an entertainment service.

All streaming services currently lack older classics. I like the idea of a dedicated "Netflix for public domain" movies.

Maybe someone would like to pick this idea up and improve it (I don't know the dev). The video quality improvement sounds like a good idea already.

It would also be good to create versions of silent movies at their original presentation speed [2] (16Hz is probably more accurate than 24Hz). Movies like "The Passion of Joan of Arc" [3] should not be watched at a comical speed.

[1] https://archive.org/details/movies

[2] https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheSpeedOfSilent...

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4_KDf4xhU8


> I like the idea of a dedicated "Netflix for public domain" movies.

It might be a little bit rude to put it here, but that is something I'm working on [0], though with a little bit wider of an approach - I'm actively seeking indie productions as well.

[0] sixteenmm.org

> It would also be good to create versions of silent movies at their original presentation speed [2] (16Hz is probably more accurate than 24Hz).

Most of my focus at the moment is on a restoration tool I'm developing, but this sounds like a great ideas I'll circle back to.


To add to this; all of the Soviet films are available on YouTube with good subtitles from an official channel. A really great one is "Ivan vassilievich changes occupation".

https://www.youtube.com/user/mosfilm


Thanks! I really like _Courier_, which last I checked is still on YT with good subtitles. (Also...ahem...I have a weakness for _Moscow to Cassiopeia_ :-))


That link goes to Mosfilm movies. There where a dozen or so other studios, and some of them have their archives up as well.

For example,

- Lenfilm: https://www.youtube.com/user/LenfilmVideo

- Odessa Film Studio: https://www.youtube.com/user/OdessAnimationStudio


Oh, all the classic comedies like 'Kidnapping, Caucasian style' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2_sjEURwgo) and 'Diamond arm' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-iVfLX2tvY) are available there, that's nice.


Especially iconic is the “The Irony of Fate”[1], which is still traditionally watched on New Years each year.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Irony_of_Fate


You just reminded me what an awesome movie this is


Yeah it's one of my favourites. The old Sherlock Holmes are also amazing.


Kin Dza Dza! Is a great SciFi film as well.


On youtube it's only available with Russian and Bulgarian subtitles, alas...


There's English as well.


Do you have a link, please? I can only find this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYHv8eJrW2Y

Which has only Bulgarian subtitles.


This reminds me of a thought I've had for a long time: it would be great to commission high quality scans of some of these public domain films so that everyone could enjoy some free movies and remix / reedit to their hearts delight. Pretty much all the ones on IA are ripped from DVDs and look pretty terrible. I'd happily donate to such a project; is anyone doing anything like it?


That sounds like a great idea to me!


One project I wish someone would undertake is streaming of 1950-80 Hollywood movies. There are some many great movies made in that period and many of them are slower paced than modern movies. The really good ones are of cause still owned by someone, but it doesn't seem like it would be to expensive to license them, I'm mean they are already paid for and aren't making a ton of money on DVD sales or TV licenses anyway. The tricky part would really be to find the license holders and negotiate bulk licenses.

Similarly 1970 - 1990 porno streaming service seems like it should be able to make a little profit.


There's a really good chance the rights owners are the same people who own modern films and wouldn't want to undercut their new productions.


Turner Classic Movies? When they show a film on TV they also keep it in their streaming category for a week. All you need is a cable subscription (as a friend or parent to use theirs).


Amazon Prime includes a bunch of these movies. From the intro, it looks like “Shout Factory” is the entity with the streaming rights.

There’s also “Criterion Channel” which has streaming rights for a bunch of Hollywood classics.


Got a couple PHP warnings on the site (mobile version at any rate), might want to clean those up or adjust your php.ini to a "production" level where those go to a log rather than the page.

Otherwise, I like it! Will pass it along.


If the author is here, the pages load and everything works, but this error shows on every page:

Warning: Use of undefined constant browse_vid - assumed 'browse_vid' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /homepages/5/d229943463/htdocs/publicdomainflix/mobile/category.php on line 32

Using S7 galaxy, stock android, chrome


How does one go about finding movies that are public domain?

Would also be nice if the was a form for others to add new additions and a citation link. Not sure if this is available once you register and login, if it is then it'd be nice to not need to login for it.


> How does one go about finding movies that are public domain?

With extreme difficulty.

There are quite a few lists of films that have fallen out of copyright, or were never registered correctly, but even those often contain elements, like the soundtrack, that may continue to hold copyright.

Secondly, what is Public Domain in one nation may well not be in another. I know of several films that are public domain in Australia, that won't reach public domain in America for another fifty-seventy years, and vice versa.

Legally speaking, if you're broadcasting for everyone without checking where they live, such as through the registration form, you can and do run up against people willing to litigate you to death over a film made in the 60s that hasn't seen mass broadcast since.

Finally, finding out who owns copyright of a work can be extremely difficult. A company can go under or get carved up, and various trademarks and copyrights can be passed around - often to different people, and occasionally, the copyright can be lost in that mess or owned by an entity that no longer exists. It's still not public domain - but nobody knows who should be angry at you if you broadcast.


> It's still not public domain - but nobody knows who should be angry at you if you broadcast.

Point Break (1991) is a good example of this.

Here's an article from someone who wanted to show it at a festival and couldn't work out the rights.

https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/com...


> nobody knows who should be angry at you if you broadcast.

I suggest the law should say to successfully assert copyright infringement, your current contact info must be on file with the US Copyright Office, or your copyright is unenforceable.


I think implicit copyright does have some advantages -- it means if you put up, say, a T-shirt design on the internet, because you had an idea and thought it was neat, not expecting it might be worth registering, other people can't (legally) just start selling that T-shirt without paying you. Basically I think it's not great if amateurs have to go to the trouble of always explicitly registering minor things just in case something catches on.

But obviously it has the giant problem you say, that so many works are locked behind copyright snarls. A system of mandatory explicit registration would have the huge advantage of making things much easier to track.

Here's a compromise idea I've had: Retain implicit copyright; however, unless a copyright is explicitly registered, it cannot be sold, nor exclusively licensed (i.e. if you license it to someone, but haven't registered it, you cannot legally bind yourself not to license it to anyone else). And then any sales or exclusivity agreements would be tracked by the registrar.

So, under this system, if you need to know who to talk to regarding a copyright, then for explicitly registered copyrights you can consult the registrar, while for non-registered copyrights the answer is always the original creator. This does still leave the problem of finding the original creator in the latter case, but it's still much better than it being unclear who to consult at all.

It's possible there's some big hole in this I'm missing, but I'm hoping that this compromise idea would capture much of the upsides both of requiring explicit registration and of not requiring it.

(Not that such a thing will ever be implemented anytime soon, but...)


I think the biggest problem with copyright is the length of time it's enforced for.

I'm happy enough with implicit copyright - though the argument about what should be inherently copyrightable does need to be fleshed out.

However, the current system generally works out to about seventy years after the death of the last person involved. (There are a lot of exceptions and nuances to this - it's a generalisation). Which can mean that a work is protected for nearly two hundred years. That is insane.

If we were to tame it back to two decades after last development, and make it so that only people, and not companies, can own copyright, then we might be in for a reasonable shot. (Companies can license copyright, and employ trademarks to protect themselves.)

As it is, the current copyright laws stifle creativity, and hand over power of most mainstream ideas to a corporation that can use things like DMCA and Content ID as hammers against any little players in the field. You can't create anything similar to what exists or has existed.

And yes, I do believe there is a 0% chance that this will ever happen anywhere.


A reasonable compromise copyright scheme is to simply require a registration for it to last beyond 20 years, along with a fee.

That'll filter out the vast bulk of the garbage copyrights, as well as the stuff nobody knows who owns (likely including the owner).


Tack onto that a fee that increases by a multiple for every 10 year extension or so, so that the older the work the more commercially successful it needs to be worth paying for ongoing protection of.


> registering minor things just in case something catches on.

On the other hand, should minor things be copyright-able? Like this message I am writing?

If you spent a year writing a book, sure, copyright it. But if you drew a quick doodle on a napkin, scanned it and put it on a t-shirt to impress your friends, is that really worthy?

If you can't be bothered to register a copyright, which just takes a few minutes, it is not worth copyright protection.


I think there's a wide intermediate space there. What if you spent a few hours on something? Maybe on the sort of short story people post to, say, Reddit or Tumblr? That's actually a significant effort, that it would be bad if someone else tried to sell it as their own, but also not so much that you'd naturally think "oh I should register this".

> If you can't be bothered to register a copyright, which just takes a few minutes, it is not worth copyright protection.

Wait, does copyright registration take just a few minutes currently? I hadn't realized. That's good to hear.

Edit: I guess I was implicitly assuming that we'd also be adding a registration fee, which, even if small, makes registration the sort of thing you're not very likely to do for a day-or-two project.


Having a filter of you have to bother to register and bother playing a small a fee means you get to decide if it is worthwhile or not.

Another filter is you have to mark it as copyrighted in order for protection.

This system worked quite well before implicit copyright.


> Having a filter of you have to bother to register and bother playing a small a fee means you get to decide if it is worthwhile or not.

Sure, but my point is that there a number of cases where having to make that decision doesn't really have good results. When you're a professional you can make a point of explicitly copyrighting everything. When you're just some random person posting stuff on the internet because you think it's cool (like, if you write a short story in a Reddit comment), you are not realistically going to bother to copyright it all simply due to the inconvenience (and if you have to pay a fee you're certainly not going to), so I don't think requiring this has good results in this case.

> This system worked quite well before implicit copyright.

I mean, certainly it did, no question there, but I'm wondering if we can do even better by getting the advantages of both. I'm not sure your replies are addressing this point, really. Like, could you give an example of a case where my proposal would seriously fail at the goal of preventing a copyright snarl?


> Like, could you give an example of a case where my proposal would seriously fail at the goal of preventing a copyright snarl?

I'm not quite sure what your proposal is, but implicitly copyrighting something just because someone spent several hours on it isn't an improvement. Everyone who suddenly smells $$$ is going to retroactively claim that.


Copyright applies to any work that you produce with intellectual value by default. You don't necessarily have to register it for it to be protected. The big issue for me with copyright is how long the term is and how it can be assigned and theres no details on who actually owns it.

I would say a limited time without registration would be perfect. Then an extended time period if you register it. The registration would then include all the individual parts that make it up.


> Copyright applies to any work that you produce with intellectual value by default.

I know. That was a mistake.


Unfortunately in the age of international copyright agreements this would only make sense if the work originated out of the US.


Idle curiosity: what are some of the "films that are public domain in Australia, that won't reach public domain in America for another fifty-seventy years, and vice versa"?


Nosferatu is the first that comes to mind that can illustrate the differences.

It was considered to be in the public domain by 1930 in most countries, but thanks to Florence Stoker who attempted to hunt down and eradicate the film at every turn, it becomes public domain in the US probably in 2041. It could be even later, depending on a few small things.


Is there an easy way to donate money toward this work? I would do that in a heartbeat.


There's only really two organisations I know of who actively try and dig down into this stuff and give it back to the public. (There are a lot who just accept the legal risks and ignore what rules there may be.)

The Internet Archive [0], and TorrentFreak[1], with the former being the more active in the area.

My own knowledge comes from more selfish, commercial, reasons, in that I've tried to use PD content to kickstart my site's collection. (To be clear: Not affiliated with the parent of this thread in any way shape or form.)

If you want to donate - I'd highly recommend the Internet Archive, but they do have an American slant to what they attempt to give back. That is, if it isn't PD in America, then it might not be the best fit for them.

[0] https://archive.org/

[1] https://torrentfreak.com/


Heads up: this site doesn't use HTTPS, so anyone (for some definition of "any") can see what you're watching, and potentially modify it.


"this site uses HTTPS, so anyone (among the x509 oligarchy) can censor it" /s


Even taken at face value, that's a lot smaller group of people who can successfully stage an attack.


I don't know why this is something worth mentioning. If some one can MITM your HTTP requests, they can just as easily MITM your DNS and SNI etc.


Not sure how genuine you're being, but there's a big difference between someone seeing the domain name of the website I'm visiting (publicdomainflix.com), and seeing my username and password when I register.


MITMing your DNS will do much more than let people see where you want to go. It will let them send you to wherever they want as if that was the place you were trying to go.


Both attacks are equally deterministic and would be instrumented by software which share the property that they only need to be written once.

The attacker needs to run either one program or another program (with more sophisticated code but who cares, it's already written).

So really it's the same level of effort if you assume someone is just running prebuilt software, which is usually the case


For anyone reading this who isn't already familiar, the above is incorrect.

When you're browsing with HTTPS, a third party may see: - Your DNS queries (revealing the name of the website you're visiting),

- The handshake of your TLS connection, including Server Name Indicating (SNI) (revealing the name of the website you're visiting).

- A third party on the network is not however able to see the content of the website you're visiting, or the data you're submitting to the site.

When you're browsing with HTTP, a third party may see: - Your DNS queries (same as above)

- The name of the website you're visiting (via the host header)

- Any and all information sent between you and the website, as well as being able to modify any and all data sent between you and the website.


Right but that wasn't the point. The idea sometimes put out is that a more sophisticated instrumentation is less likely because it's more difficult. It's a misapplication of the threat model principle.

It's a false claim because the instrumentation is automated and the execution is identical.

To be even more specific about HTTPS, if someone is lying to you about DNS, lying to you about the key signer and lying to you about the keys, it still doesn't work because your browser ships with verification keys from the major key signers.

So the attacker would still have to break cryptography because they couldn't do a fake chain that matched the domain and the key that was sent to you with your browser.

Now if someone managed to break RSA then again, this would become a single program with as much effort to run as any other program even though it sounds like a lot more work. But there's no public break so it's assumed to be unachievable without vast computing resources.


What do you mean “MITM your SNI?” They could change it, but that change would be detected by the final handshake HMAC.


Beat the Devil https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beat_the_Devil_(1953... doesn't seem to be on there, also search is pretty bad, it doesn't look like you can search by actors - for example neither Jimmy Stewart http://publicdomainflix.com/search.php?keywords=jimmy+stewar... or James Stewart works.


Yeah, would be nice additional info to search/filter with such as year, language, color or black/white, lead actors, etc. Since this is all a free effort, it could be group sourced via github.


I know about the current sad state of the length of copyright, but seeing it on display really drives it home. So few films after 1960. Same issue with books on Gutenberg.


Sometimes, it just makes no sense at all. R.E. Howard had no children, no wife, no parents, no siblings and no busines when he took his own life 83 years ago.

I think the original Conan books are completely public domain but I know that ”Conan” is under a dicey trademark somehow that people don’t dare mess around with. So, I believe if you write a story about a barbarian from Cimmeria who rescues damsels from snake people you can make all the money you want selling it and keep it yourself. As long as you don’t call it ”Conan”.


Some people will deliberately make their stuff public domain rather than being copyright. My opinion is copyright is bad, so I also will make all of them public domain, too.


I don't think copyright itself is bad, but the way in which Disney has gotten the government to enforce it is absurd. If I ever release a creative work, I'd make sure to do it in a way where the work is free to share but I would still own the right to produce that work until I am dead. I think that's perfectly reasonable, but copyright in the US today is effectively indefinite and intentionally difficult to make sense of. All you have to do is shove a bunch of other licensed copyrighted material into your work so that only your company can resell that work after the main copyright has expired.


I'm sure there are many unreclaimed works made by dead people who nobody has claimed.


I've been trying to get copyrights reverted for my grandmother's works. It's 95 years after the work was created. She passed in the 1990s and yet most still will, without intervention, be copyrighted for decades to come. (US)


Have you made any progress?


why won't you publish her work and put the burden of taking legal action on them (whoever they are) ? I bet they won't bother (IANAL)


It’s a good start and bookmarked but probably needs some kind of language tagging. I browsed around a bit and click one this [0] in the 1970s category... it’s in Hindi.

0 - http://publicdomainflix.com/mobile/the-street-fighter-1974_f...


Browsing through the site I stumbled upon the "Why we fight" movie series[1].

Even though it is very biased and seems to have been a propaganda tool, the movies are actually pretty well crafted.

The "public domain movies" site does not have the entire series, but you can find them at youtube[2]

[1] http://publicdomainflix.com/browse-documentary-videos-1-date...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcAsIWfk_z4&list=PLugwVCjzrJ...


Looks great - like the IA's movie site but with a more consumer UI. Unfortunately, none of the videos are playing for me in Chrome 75. I've tried a few, they all say that the network failed or the format isn't supported. Firefox seems to work, though.


More websites should fail on Chrome and work just fine on FireFox.


I'm working on something similiar. If anyone else is, feel free to ping me!


This would be a great use case for PeerTube, no?


I literally had the tought to build something like this today. Nice work!


I posted this simply because I liked the idea. Maybe someone would like to pick it up and improve it.


How do they pay for the hosting? Is it purely donation based?


Peertube would likely be a good self hosted solution for scaling this, as you end up with a swarm of seeders as content gets more popular, reducing the load on the main server: http://joinpeertube.org/en/


looks like they are a content aggregator. I tried to play some movies and all of them are in youtube.


Yes, the movies are embedded YouTube, but with their own playback controls overlaid on top, which on my browser (Chrome Version 75.0.3770.90) couldn't be hidden. Right clicking on the movie window and brings up the familiar YouTube menu, where you can copy the original URL.

It makes sense: there's no way a one-person operation can afford the bandwidth to stream movies. I am however impressed by the effort the owner goes to to find out the copyright status of each entry.


No ‘Night of the Living Dead’?



I was wondering how that can be public domain. So to save others some searching: https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2016/10/25/why-night-of-the-...

The short answer is, they forgot to put the copyright notice on it, and at the time, that made it public domain.


Yes, 8 years later this law “bug” was patched.

Nice vid on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI1kqlt4vkA


Weird. I would have thought that it would be copyright by default under the Berne copyright convention of 1886.

Ah, after further research I see that the US only joined the convention in 1988.


Probably explains why in the latest season of Stranger Things, the characters got to the flix and watch that particular film.


They also have The Last Man On Earth (1964) http://publicdomainflix.com/mobile/the-last-man-on-earth-196...

It's the first movie adaptation of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend."

It was filmed in the suburbs of Rome, Italy.

notus 78 days ago [flagged]

Did you not search?


crazy to think we are watching dead people


This made me realise that by the time my 2 year old son is old enough to watch adult movies, movies from the decade I was born will be entering the public domain.


No, they won't. They'll just extend copyright length again. It's routine now. And it's not a good thing.


Your comment is an example of corrosive cynicism. And I don't think it's true either. Resistance to further extensions has built since the last extension.


Sure, just take notice that it's a seemingly appropriate response to an excessively optimistic post.

What I was trying to express is:

No, if we just "leave things be", a copyright extension will happen again.





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