Public Domain Movies

Hi everyone,

I will be meeting with someone from Fed Square (in Melbourne) about the possibility of using the huge screen there to show public domain movies. I’d like to do it to utilise the public domain for its purpose of spreading culture in society, and also to make a point about how ridiculously sparse the public domain is.

I thought I’d go back to the 1920s and show Metropolis, but it turns out that even that, at least in the US, is still protected by copyright:

The movies I’m looking for don’t need to actually be out of copyright in the US, but they need to be in Australia.

So, in advance of my meeting, does anyone have any suggestions for good public domain movies, that are available for download or gulp purchase?

Note that Metropolis is shown on this list (and others I’ve seen) as out of copyright, so Dr. Google is not necessarily to be trusted. Also, I’m not sure about the status of digitally-restored (and similar) films.



Wikipedia has a good list of US public domain movies:

Anyone know if any are good? I can cross-reference with IMDB and thepiratebay, but shortcuts would be appreciated.

Sweet, I think will be enough to help me out.

After a quick google search:

I met with someone at Fed Square. They are tentatively booking in October 30th for the use of the screen, plus she said they’d supply deck chairs, and do it for free for an initial event, though she seemed to like the idea of trying to do a 6-8 week event, with a movie per week. We had to backpedal on that though, as the screen was too booked out for it to work.

My initial thoughts are to screen Utopia, followed by another movie on the same night.

So, now I’d like ideas for the event itself - a name, stunts, entertainment, material, and importantly a story for the event.

For the story, I’d like to promote it for families to see the movies from earlier generations and to spread the culture before it is lost. I’d also like to highlight that the public domain is relatively empty, and while we’ve found some good movies, it is only by people valuing the public domain that there will be enough desire to stop the laws that are harming it.

For the name, I’d like to include something about the Public Domain, directly, though Free Film Festival has a catchy alliteration. Perhaps there could be a subtitle that it is free, as in speech (though nobody will know what that means).

Anyway, if we have some good ideas, I might put together a Pozible campaign or something to raise funds for whatever else might help it be a success.

Thoughts and suggestions, please.

There’s a reasonably good collection of public domain/public interest movies and documentaries at the Internet Archive which would definitely be worth a look. Especially some of the 1940s era stuff. I recall a Sherlock Holmes movie set in a then modern setting (sound familiar?) during WWII. It might take some digging through the archive to find it, though.

The two main sections there to check are the Movies and Films section and the Moving Image Archive. Make sure certain classic footage which people have only really seen small snippets of are included. For example the entirety of the footage of Apollo 11 landing on the moon (which should be freely available as the US gov’t can’t copyright things). That’s exactly the sort of cultural work which we’re supposed to be defending.