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CBS Refuses To Preserve Jack Benny Footage

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the thirty-nine-forever dept.

Television 323

goosman writes "The president of the International Jack Benny Fan Club had the opportunity to review some holdings of the CBS vaults while assisting them with some transfers. In the vaults she found 25 shows on film that were unreleased, but in the public domain. The IJBFC offered to pay for the digitization and preservation of these shows; they got a letter of enthusiastic support from the Benny estate. CBS has so far refused to allow this preservation to happen." BoingBoing and TechDirt have both covered this act of cultural destruction.

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323 comments

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Management Types... (3, Insightful)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827536)

Why do these people run things?

Re:Management Types... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827660)

Because they do exactly what they're told, regardless of how idiotic or despotic it is.

Re:Management Types... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828116)

What's kind of weird, and leads to the purposeless drift in modern American business, is that they're also the ones supposedly telling people what to do, so it's a rudderless ship of automatons following other automatons' direction. Oh, sure, technically their bosses are the shareholders, but shareholders in diffuse-ownership companies exert no real control.

Re:Management Types... (3, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828156)

Lots of blame to go around. The responsible parties, in order:

  • Supreme court
  • Congress
  • Lawyers
  • CBS

It's always painful to see culture, protected TEMPORARILY by the authorizing document (constitution) in order to encourage its creation for EVERYONE'S BENEFIT, destroyed by a government and its minions out of control.

Re:Management Types... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827700)

No f***in shit!

Re:Management Types... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827890)

Mumsy and Dadsy bought them MBAs at Ivy League schools.

Re:Management Types... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828196)

pure unadulterated GREED.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827538)

To the moon alice

Correct Response (5, Funny)

Mr Pippin (659094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827546)

I think the appropriate is:

(long pause) WELL!

Re:Correct Response (4, Funny)

multisync (218450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827998)

Now cut that out

Re:Correct Response (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828090)

I think the appropriate is:

Hand on hips, (long pause) WELL!

There, fixed that for ya'.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827566)

That from the Honeymooners, not jack Benny.

Not that my opinion matters (4, Insightful)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827552)

As a big fan of Jack Benny's work I have to say CBS aren't a bunch of mother fuckers. They're a bunch of horse fuckers.

Re:Not that my opinion matters (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827614)

You shouldn't degrade people like that. Horse fuckers have feelings too.

Re:Not that my opinion matters (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827816)

Such as severe intestinal pain [pvtridvs.net] .

Re:Not that my opinion matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827858)

Cannot be unseen

Re:Not that my opinion matters (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828026)

That is _far_ beyond absurd. Egads, how those Loonix enthusiasts can then look themselves in the mirror and monkey-write code the next day is indeed amazing...

Re:Not that my opinion matters (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827898)

You shouldn't degrade horses like that. Horses have feelings too.

Re:Not that my opinion matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828098)

A sense of dignity not being among them. Of all the horrible things we do to animals, giving them an orgasm is hardly the worst.

Re:Not that my opinion matters (4, Informative)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827686)

As a big fan of Jack Benny's work I have to say CBS aren't a bunch of mother fuckers. They're a bunch of horse fuckers.

They can't be both? Mother fuckers don't have to be fucking a human mother.

Re:Not that my opinion matters (1)

rrrhys (1475013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827982)

As a big fan of Jack Benny's work I have to say CBS aren't a bunch of mother fuckers. They're a bunch of horse fuckers.

They can't be both? Mother fuckers don't have to be fucking a human mother.

um..

Re:Not that my opinion matters (5, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827924)

Pity Johnny Carson is also dead. He and Benny were extremely close, and he would have raised holy hell over this. And the dude had a lot of clout.

Can't get outraged, though. Media conglomerates have already used up most of my outrage, and I want to save what's left for genocide, the Republican party, and other serious stuff.

Benny is great (4, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827574)

A lot of the stuff in Looney Tunes / Merry Melodies comes from Benny. And he's the master of timing. It's brilliant.

Re:Benny is great (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827610)

Yup. For example, in TFA, you're looking around and wondering which black guy he is before you see the sketch on the right and figure out what he just did there.

I best remember him as an mst3k punchline (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827596)

Whenever the camera focused on an old-timey radio the bots would call out "The Jack Benny Program!"

I'm double-dating myself, first for referencing mst3k and second for getting the joke. But dating yourself is legal in west virginia.

Re:I best remember him as an mst3k punchline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827628)

I'm double-dating myself
 
That was a nerf toss, anyone care to hit it out of the park?

Re:I best remember him as an mst3k punchline (2, Funny)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827726)

Uh uh uh, let's see, uhhh.... "That wouldn't be so bad, but it looks like he got stuck with the ugly one."

Oh come on, that was at least a single.

Obamacare croaked with Coakley! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827598)

Read the polls and weep, libtards!

Note how the stockmarket - that predictor of future standards of living - jumped up on the death of Obamacare.

revoke ALL their copyrights (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827600)

Seriously, refusing to allow this public domain work to be restored at no cost to them means they are not holding up their end of the copyright bargain and so they should now lose their rights and protection under said laws. There's a social contract at work and it's stupid acts like this and the Sonny Bono perpetual protection of Mickey Mouse Act that make me have no qualms about "pirating" material when I feel like it. If they don't want to play nice then I see no reason to play their game at all.

Re:revoke ALL their copyrights (5, Insightful)

fandingo (1541045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827838)

The thing is that they never distributed them. That's like saying that Abraham Lincoln's estate is legally required to make all of his private journals available to you.

I agree that's its a dick move to keep these works locked up, but I think that it would be dangerous to Force people to make their out-of-copyright works available. Copyright provides powerful tools to entities to control their creative works, but some protection is needed afterwards. If I created something privately, then no one should be able to compel me to release just because its copyright is up. Yes, if they have a copy of the work, then they are free to do what they want with it. It's sort of like the GPL; you don't have to opensource your changes, unless you distribute it. If you keep it private, then it's fine. That's how I feel about this; if they want to keep it private, that's fine.

Again, I wouldn't do the same thing if I were in their position, but I certainly understand why they do it.

Re:revoke ALL their copyrights (3, Interesting)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827896)

Problem is these aren't their works, they're Jack Benny's works. They only held the copyright. If the Jack Benny estate supports releasing them then they should be released.

Re:revoke ALL their copyrights (3, Insightful)

muridae (966931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827956)

Who owns the film? That is really the only question the needs to be answered. If CBS owns it, then there is nothing the fans or anyone else can do other than raise hell till someone listens.

Look, if I owned a classic Picaso painting, just because one of Picaso's theoretical descendants want it digitized would not give them to right to take the painting from me. Copyright only limits what the owner of the media can do when distributing or reproducing it, and it expiring does not suddenly put restrictions on the owners. In fact, all it does to CBS is remove restrictions on what they can do with the film.

Re:revoke ALL their copyrights (3, Insightful)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827962)

They only held the copyright.

That makes them their works. I'm with fandingo; they are being supreme jerks about this, but it's their property and they can do as they please with it. Now, if there were copies out there somewhere, those could be legally redistributed (unless the concerns about songs in the skits are correct).

Re:revoke ALL their copyrights (5, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828024)

Your point is well taken if you automatically assume that everything is copyrighted. It technically is today, but not in practice.

Lincoln's estate should not be required to make his journals available because he never sought copyright protection for them. Same goes for your private works.

CBS did seek such protections for their works, therefore, they should be required to make them available if they are the only copies in existence.

If you want the power of copyright, you must release your works (that's the point of copyright), and should be required to make a copy on demand if your copy is the only one available. Preferably we'd have a copy on file at the Library of Congress, but we're not there yet.

Re:revoke ALL their copyrights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827942)

Look doofus, you'll never get anywhere not playing their game; it's the only game in town, or didn't you notice. The thing to do is push for a grassroots boycott of their products. That's the only place they feel pain-in their wallets.

You don't pirate because you don't feel bad doing so, you pirate because you're lazy and you're weak. And they know it. They can read people like you like a dime novel.

Re:revoke ALL their copyrights (1)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828002)

There's a social contract at work

Well, there actually isn't a contract. Copyright provides monopolistic control of a work for a period of time. That is it. The receiver of those benefits has no duty or obligation to do anything when copyright expires.

You are right that CBS is being completely stupid in what it is doing (and I have written to them to complain), but they have no legal obligation to preserve anything.

But since there is no contract, there is no obligation by the people to preserve the length of the copyright protections. Congress is free to recognize that sleazebags like CBS do not need extraordinary lengths of time to exploit their copyrights. CBS enjoys their copyright protections because they have been granted by the voters through Congress. They should realize that arbitrarily pissing people off could result in a political backlash that could hurt them.

Eminent domain (5, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827606)

Perhaps the federal government could appropriate the masters via eminent domain and make them available through the Library of Congress.

Re:Eminent domain (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827882)

They can probably use the Patriot Act, it can do everything.

Re:Eminent domain (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827990)

Perhaps the federal government could appropriate the masters via eminent domain and make them available through the Library of Congress.

No, the lobbyists will explain to the people in government that if they can't copyright it and make money off it, nobody gets it because it's their property after all and they can do what they want with it. It's not like they have a legal obligation to preservation of history and culture.

What is the point of buying copyright laws if you can't be sure to be able to release something in the public domain under new copyright, and then sell it on DVD and license it to Coca Cola or Starbucks?

If they let someone pay for the digitization and then release it into the public domain, how would they make money off that? CBS is a corporation, this is an asset. It sucks, but I'm hardly surprised by this.

Cheers

Re:Eminent domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828172)

>>It's not like they have a legal obligation to preservation of history and culture.

Maybe there SHOULD be a legal framework in place to enforce this, along with other moral practices in the "megacorp" domain.

While the material may not be protected... (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827612)

...by copyright, as long as CBS owns the only copies they control it and it is, therefor, not in the public domain. The copies are their property to do with as they see fit.

Re:While the material may not be protected... (4, Insightful)

Black Sabbath (118110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827672)

> The copies are their property to do with as they see fit.

Indeed, and since they have (as yet) not figured out a way to "monetize" these shows, they would, I'm sure, rather see the tapes destroyed rather than release them for consumption in the public domain.

I'm pretty sure this behaviour can be referred to as an act of bastardry.

Re:While the material may not be protected... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827828)

But since they're a private company and not the government, it's not only okay, but an honorable decision.

Re:While the material may not be protected... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828000)

I'm pretty sure this behaviour can be referred to as an act of bastardry.

I'm pretty sure this behaviour can be referred to as an act of capitalism.

Re:While the material may not be protected... (3, Insightful)

MurphyZero (717692) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828082)

The two terms are not mutually exclusive, in fact there's a huge overlap.

Re:While the material may not be protected... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828102)

Bullshit.

Capitalism, by definition, implies that they create wealth through the act of leveraging something.

Destroying something with no intent to profit on it would most certainly fail to meet that definition.

But maybe you meant vandalism?

Perfect Example (3, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827632)

This is a perfect example of all that is wrong with copyright as it exists today. Protection is granted to creators in order to increase works available to the public, not hide them away.

Re:Perfect Example (2)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827970)

This is a perfect example of all that is wrong with copyright as it exists today. Protection is granted to creators in order to increase works available to the public, not hide them away.

Eh? The copyright has expired. So what does this have to do with copyright? The only right involved is the right to control your own material possessions (i.e. the physical recordings). That doesn't expire.

Re:Perfect Example (4, Interesting)

vranash (594439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827980)

I've been complaining about this for a while regarding source code. The notable example I can remember pointing this out was Star Control 2 (Ur Quan Masters is the name of the Open Source release.) Due to the fact that they weren't required to SUPPLY a copy of their copyrighted work/code/etc in order to obtain copyright, the original source code for the DOS version of the game was lost years ago. Toys for Bob, the guys who had programmed it (But not distributed it, which is why it's not called the SC2 Open Source release) decided after many years of fan interest to allow a full open source release of the game, datafiles and all. However they'd lost the master source code for the game years before, which resulted in the release instead of the 3do version of the source code, which thankfully HAD survived all these years. My point with this being: In the 50-100 years or so when CP/M, MS-DOS, PC-DOS, Microsoft Windows 1.0, etc should be coming out of copyright, allowing people three to five generations from now to benefit from being able to explore the code behind the massively successful and historic works, those works will not exist, because in the greatest travesty of this generation (and there are many, both great and small), all of that information, code, documents, film, etc will be lost, because nobody other than the 'owners' was allowed to look at, back up, save, translate, and otherwise secure those culturally significant treasures for future generations. (And yes some people might not consider these items 'treasures' but they are important to both outlook and understanding of what went on during the latter half of the 20th century on through to today.

Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (5, Insightful)

Jiro (131519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827636)

CBS claims that there could be music clearance problems--which is an entirely legitimate possibility. The episodes are probably public domain because when they were made copyrights had to be renewed and there's little chance they were renewed. But if the music came from any outside source, it's quite possible that they *did* renew it, leaving the music in copyright today--and leaving CBS liable for serious damages in court if they just give the episodes to some fans to copy. Blame the copyright system, but do not blame CBS.

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (4, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827674)

Since when is someone liable for what someone else does with a copy sold or loaned to someone else? If I run down to the local library and make a copy of a CD, is the library on the hook? Definitely not.

CBS can sell or lend their reels to this group and say "oh, by the way, the music might still be copyrighted, so you might want to check on that if you're going to make copies".

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (1)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827860)

Yeah, but since when did the record industry play fair?

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827892)

Music Industry Lawyers: "Hmmm, who do we sue? CBS? Or a bunch of geeky old time TV fans?"

Anyone? Anyone car to guess?

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827968)

Since when is someone liable for what someone else does with a copy sold or loaned to someone else?

Since the copyright laws were passed. They allow for selling of a portion of rights to parties. What those parties do with the copies, or by their inability to control the material they're entrusted with, what they allow to happen to those copies, can devalue the portions of the rights not entrusted to them. They can be held liable for loss by the owner. Likewise, if the owner allows the portion under their control to be compromised, devaluing the portion they previously sold rights to, they can be held liable for loss due to the devaluation they allowed to happen.

The show may have had permission to use someone's music. The show no longer exists so neither does the permission.

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827978)

Is your local library as rich as CBS? Because it's all about how deep the pockets are...

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (2, Informative)

muridae (966931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827988)

Actually, the library can be if they know you have the intent to violate a copyright and assist you. So would CBS. The phrase you want to look up is "vicarious infringement".

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828018)

Since when is someone liable for what someone else does with a copy sold or loaned to someone else?

Two words: making available.

Four more: inducement to infringe copyright.

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827680)

In that case, what does CBS mean by, "there are so many issues with those shows, that even if we took the time to figure it out, we still almost certainly wouldn't do the deal"?

(From TFA, of course.)

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (5, Informative)

Jiro (131519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827718)

Replying to my own article because it's even worse than that, as said in a very interesting comment in the boingboing article: apparently
1) the person who started this whole thing sells copies of shows, and they're not all PD.
2) she's a fan who's using this as an excuse to expand her collection.
3) her claim that she was "overseeing the color specials transfer" seems to be a lie.
4) CBS is willing to license these episodes out; they did not, as falsely claimed, say that it would be too much trouble even if they could iron out the legal issues
5) the episodes are not some unique thing that only CBS has copies of

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828094)

Indeed, the slashdot summary *is* wrong. See posting #31 at the BoingBoing article -- a Ms. Laura Leff is a major fan of Jack Benny. She sells both PD & copyrighted Benny shows:

"The 25 Benny shows as well as the full run of the series is stored at CBS in state of the art facilities... CBS is also aware of the fact that Ms. Leff has a library of many existing shows and charges for making copies; dupes of both copywritten and PD shows are offered from her website."

CBS seems to be fairly reasonable; Ms. Leff apparetnly is making much noise for her own benefit.

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (5, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827740)


Blame the copyright system, but do not blame CBS.

How much money did CBS contribute towards getting the current copyright laws enacted?

Re:Read the article, slashdot summary is wrong (5, Funny)

schnablebg (678930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828140)

I'm not sure. When did you stop beating your wife?

We are te public ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827638)

... in 'public domain'. If CBS denys us access to our property, we should just file a thrft report with the local police department.

Re:We are te public ... (5, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827730)

This is a problem with the current copyright system as well. There is no mandate that a copy be put on file with the Library of Congress so that when the copyright does expire, someone might have access to it.

By my calculations, the copyright on Windows 1.0 expires in 2080. Do you think anyone will have a binary sitting around, much less the source to that program at that date? Highly doubtful.

Re:We are te public ... (1)

vranash (594439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828010)

I actually made a longer post in a reply further up about that very issue. I forgot to mention the lack of some form of escrow or a required copy in order to provide the copyrighter with their desired protections. If such a thing became required to enforce copyrights, perhaps more information from this generation, culturally significant or not, would survive for future generations to explore.

Re:We are te public ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828006)

Yeah, that will work. The *work* is public domain. That particular copy, belongs to them. Can I demand you send me all the public domain DVDs that you own?

Re:We are te public ... (1)

muridae (966931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828012)

The content is yours to copy and redistribute as you wish, once the information is in the public domain. The individual manifestation of that data, be it book, film, whatever, is not covered by copyright and is owned. It's owner, in this case CBS, gets to decide who has access to it.

Really, is this so confusing? /. rants about how the MP/RI/AA want to control physical media, but then people make strange arguments like this one.

Re:We are te public ... (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828040)

... in 'public domain'. If CBS denys us access to our property, we should just file a thrft report with the local police department.

Uh...wtf? I don't keep up on the copyrights of everything I own, but I suspect you might not like it if the police charged into house and confiscated your non-copyrighted photos and videos. I sure wouldn't.

Re:We are te public ... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828144)

It was unreleased, therefore it's private property.

Die CBS Die (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827642)

And I don't mean The CBS The!

Well! (4, Funny)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827646)

Those films can't be in the public domain. They're only 39 years old.

Re:Well! (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827704)

At the time, you had to explicitly renew your copyright at 28 years [upenn.edu] . For example, a fair number of old Warner Brothers cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s are in the public domain [wikipedia.org] because the owner at the time, Associated Artists Productions, failed to renew the copyright.

Re:Well! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827742)

roid

how can these be public but not Mickey Mouse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827650)

At first I was wondering how these can be in the public domain when Mickey Mouse isn't, but I guess wikipedia provides the answer [wikipedia.org] : For works published between 1923 and 1963, copyright lasts "28 (if copyright not renewed) or 95 years from publication". What's interesting is that, if wikipedia's correct, it looks like renewing copyrights hasn't been necessary since 1964. Seems like backpedaling.

Cross-posting a key comment from boing-boing (4, Informative)

zuki (845560) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827654)

Found something on Boing-Boing's comments which might make us take this with a grain of salt:

Here (with his permission) is a comment from Stan Taffel, who is a media preservationist and posted this to the Association of Moving Image Archivists listserv (AMIA-L). According to Stan, this controversy has been orchestrated by a fan club person who sells copies of the shows. Stan also tells me he's just been speaking with a company who is trying to secure a license to release the shows. Again, I'm just reporting what others have said, and have no personal stake or opinion other than that these shows should be made available to those who fervently want to see them.

Stan's comment:
"I have spoken to my source at CBS and am happy to report that the "hype" is just what it is; all hype.
CBS is ready and willing to sub license any property (as they did with Studio One etc.) for a fee.
Laura Leff, the "President" of the Jack Benny Fan Club she began a few years ago, is very good at
generating P R and has done a very good job at starting a Facebook petition against CBS and getting
articles and giving interviews pleading for the release of 25 Benny shows. She says that CBS has "locked"
these films away and will not be preserved. This is not the case.
The 25 Benny shows as well as the full run of the series is stored in state of the art facilities. The film elements
are safe and in good shape. CBS is also aware of the fact that Ms. Leff has a library of many existing shows
and charges for making copies; dupes of both copywritten and PD shows are offered from her website.

While I applaud her tenacity and love for Jack Benny (she organized a fine website and a convention a few
years ago), it seems that the truth has been diluted and the actual state of the predicament has been reported
in error. She is great at "self promoting". What it boils down to is this: She is a huge fan who just wants to
have copies of the shows and has gone this route to try and obtain them. CBS doesn't know how she was
"supervising" a transfer of one of the color shows as that is not her job. True, it was an NBC special and
maybe she was invited to see a conversion but "supervising"? She is friends with Joan Benny (Jack's
daughter) so perhaps that's how she was invited to see the inner workings. She has gained attention to her
fan club and her plight, however misrepresented it is.

CBS is not the enemy here; they will sub contract The Jack Benny out. As these are supposedly P D shows
(and that's not definite) there are other sources to locate them and once they're out, anyone can dupe them
and sell them for no fee. CBS isn't the only source for 16mm kinescopes. They even told her to try to find
them through other avenues, fully aware she wants to add them to her "collection".
Should these films be available - of course. However, business is business and CBS pays for the storage
of these and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of elements and that's not cheap. To give copies to her
for her archive is not so simple even if she pays for her copies. Maybe some company will come forward
and these shows will be seen. Time will tell."

Re:Cross-posting a key comment from boing-boing (4, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827710)

So kdawson posted a bunch of ill-informed sensationalism and invective on the Slashdot front page? I'm shocked.

Re:Cross-posting a key comment from boing-boing (1)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827746)

I understand that things like this get distorted along the way.

However, business is business and CBS pays for the storage of these and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of elements and that's not cheap.

However, this line here is the real crux of the matter, and I think reflects a market failure. Because these shows are in the public domain (I haven't verified this, but I'm taking the claim at face value), CBS can't see a way to profit from them--if they release these episodes on DVD, there will be nothing illegal about ripping and sharing them. So CBS continues to spend money preserving them, insisting that (therefore) letting someone release them without charging for it makes no "business" sense.

But I don't see a price tag there. Would it sound too much like demanding a ransom? Strictly speaking, the copyright to those films is "ours." As in, everybody's. But we can't make copies because the only physical media is "theirs," and no one has come along with a high enough bid to pry it free from their grasp.

Sounds like a market failure to me. Just another way in which well-intentioned copyright laws create bizarre cultural difficulties. Shame on CBS, regardless of this calm but weasel-worded comment suggests. The easy way out is not to say "business is business," but to just release the episodes to thepiratebay or something and be done with it. They can even stop wasting money preserving the episodes after that, if they want.

Re:Cross-posting a key comment from boing-boing (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827786)

If "CBS is not the enemy here; they will sub contract The Jack Benny out." is true, you are just being silly.

And if people are interested in having the episodes, is CBS evil if they charge $1 to release them? How about $2?

Re:Cross-posting a key comment from boing-boing (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827864)

But I don't see a price tag there. Would it sound too much like demanding a ransom?

Maybe if they were approached with a serious offer they would put a price on them at that point. Media isn't like buying a car where they don't care what you do with it once it's off the lot. If this media were to be used in a commercial venture, which looks likely considering the one asking for its release is already in the business of rehashing the other Benny shows available, there is a substantially different price tag involved.

Maybe if you'd stop being the little drama queen about anything involving copyright you'd get to learn why things work the way they do and understand CBS's position on this matter. Oh, that's right... making money is evil if its not earned by the sweat of one's brow regardless of the circumstances.

Get a life.

Re:Cross-posting a key comment from boing-boing (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827986)

However, this line here is the real crux of the matter, and I think reflects a market failure.

There's nothing 'market' about copyright: it would not exist without government and is entirely a government failure.

Because these shows are in the public domain (I haven't verified this, but I'm taking the claim at face value), CBS can't see a way to profit from them--if they release these episodes on DVD, there will be nothing illegal about ripping and sharing them.

I don't believe that's true: perhaps I'm wrong, but I believe that CBS would have copyright on the DVD even if the shows on it are public domain... anyone else with a copy of the original show would be allowed to make their own DVD, but not to copy one that CBS created.

Re:Cross-posting a key comment from boing-boing (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828032)

I don't believe that's true: perhaps I'm wrong, but I believe that CBS would have copyright on the DVD even if the shows on it are public domain.

CBS would be able to copyright any new stuff they added, like the DVD's menu. However, the shows themselves would be public domain. Someone else could copy just the shows from the DVD, repackage them (with their own copyrighted menu) and distribute that.

However, IANAL, so I could easily be wrong.

Not in public domain. (1)

starbugs (1670420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827692)

If I write a book when I'm 20, then publish it when I'm 70, my Copyright will extend from the year I published it, not when I wrote it.

A show like this is the work of many people (not just one person). Therefore if CBS wants to release the footage or destroy the footage, it's up to them. While I'm unfamiliar with Jack Benny, but if there is a 'big stink' raised in regards to this not being released, then they might decide to make anyone visiting their vault sign an NDA about its contents.

But if they don't digitize the footage, time will destroy it.

Re:Not in public domain. (2, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827758)

If I write a book when I'm 20, then publish it when I'm 70, my Copyright will extend from the year I published it, not when I wrote it.

That's not true. Since at least the Berne Convention in the 1970s, copyright protection is automatic, and publication is not a prerequisite. Your work is copyrighted the instant you lift your pen. Under the Berne Convention, however, whether you wrote the book when you were 20 or when you were 70, the copyright would still extend to 50 years after your death. Later amendments to copyright law in the United States have extended the term further, and the situation can get fairly complicated for "works for hire" or works owned by a company, as the Jack Benny show may be.

Re:Not in public domain. (1)

starbugs (1670420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827910)

That's not true. Since at least the Berne Convention in the 1970s, copyright protection is automatic, and publication is not a prerequisite. Your work is copyrighted the instant you lift your pen. Under the Berne Convention, however, whether you wrote the book when you were 20 or when you were 70, the copyright would still extend to 50 years after your death. Later amendments to copyright law in the United States have extended the term further, and the situation can get fairly complicated for "works for hire" or works owned by a company, as the Jack Benny show may be.

facepalm
You are right, I got to make better examples.
Sorry for the noise.

The article is grossly misleading (4, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827762)

The headline and article are grossly misleading. CBS is not opposed to preserving this material. Rather, it is unwilling to assume the legal costs of protecting itself against copyright infringement suits if it distributes the material. While I agree that this is an unfortunate effect of the current copyright regime, it simply is not true that CBS is refusing to preserve these shows. They have not discarded them or destroyed them; they're keeping the originals in their vault.

Poor NBC (4, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827796)

Poor NBC. They can't even hold the title of "biggest jerks" for more than a week. Congratulations, CBS, the new champs.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827808)

It said that she charges for making copies of them. Sounds to me like she is looking to make some money off of them without having to invest anything, or not very much.

How could they.. (1)

cyberzephyr (705742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827850)

How could they drop one of the most important people on TV? hmmmm.

Even the historical record would be of value 50 years later. I'm sad

People under 40 report here (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827854)

I thought I was old cuz I lost plenty hair, but I'm lost on this one.

Not so fast (3, Insightful)

S-100 (1295224) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827866)

Just because a performance is in the public domain doesn't mean that the physical master tapes cannot be privately owned and controlled. I suspect that part of CBS's reluctance to release the programs is the less-than-politically-correct portrayal of Rochester, just as Disney has buried some if its work in its vaults (e.g. Song of the South). Before you condemn them all as a bunch of idiots, releasing the masters is a zero-gain proposition for the owners, and there is a potential downside that it's their duty to consider.

Who? (-1, Troll)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827886)

Who the fuck is Jack Benny, and why the fuck should I care that CBS has committed the atrocity of refusing to "preserve" his films?

Re:Who? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828088)

you don't know? Jesus man, how EMBARASSING!

Seriously though, I was on the news when I was little (some tree planting thing with my school). I appeared in the background for around 3.89s - you know what? The dirty TV station supposedly "doesn't have" the tapes. I am OUTRAGED I tell you, OUTRAGED. They just want to destroy human culture for profit!

Again, who the fuck is Jack Benny? And more importantly what the fuck is the point of this story?

Who cares? (0)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827904)

Who cares what CBS want? Pay the janitor to make a copy of the tapes.

Public domain == copying is allowed by *any* member of the public. That means any member of archive staff, or any visitor to the archives can do it.

The only thing that *must* be watched for is not to destroy any of CBS's property during the copying. So it's probably best to pay someone who has the technical qualifications, or they could be charged with destroying property.

Re:Who cares? (2, Interesting)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828056)

Your idea might have merit, if it did not involve either:
1) Stealing CBS's property (taking the film somewhere else and copying it. The show might be PD, but it's their celluloid)
or
2) Using CBS's equipment/resources to copy it without their permission. (Also stealing).

They should find a friend at CBS with influence (2, Interesting)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828004)

Like David Letterman. Tell him about this, I'm sure he'd be interested in helping... more than any other entertainer, he respects the Great Ones.

Celluloid Decay (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828016)

I fully expect more of the same, as long as its going into public domain and cant be used as a money maker by the studios more and more titles are going to mysteriously suffer celluloid decay...after all what good is preserving it if its not going make you any money. At least that the view of most of Hollywood. Good will is fine as long as its something like a tribute or telethon that can bring in ratings and ad revenue.

National Archives eminient domain? (3, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828112)

I wonder if the National Archives would consider beginning eminent domain proceedings to force a buyout of the material.

As it is in the public domain, its "eminent domain price" would be its auction value of the originals after high-quality copies have been made available to all for free.

Just Donate Them (3, Insightful)

Hutz (900771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828114)

The Museum of Television and Radio is now known as The Paley Center for Media [paleycenter.org] - named for William S. Paley, the founder of CBS. This isn't that hard to figure out.

Well! (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828126)

'nuff said.

Lies, Damned Lies And Hyperhype (1, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828132)

There is so much in the summary, the articles and the web pages associated with this that fall somewhere between hype and bald faced lies that I'm not going to waste my time picking it apart. Someone saw a sympathetic audience and played it. You've been played like Clapton's Strat and you made exactly the music they wanted you to. Too bad nobody saw fit to investigate any of this. Anyone that actually gave shit about anything more than the chance to spout off might have at least tried to contact any of the several broadcast museums like Paley Center, Museum of TV and Radio or Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Come on kids, try reconciling the fact that they've got these things locked in a vault with the accusation of "failing to preserve" and try to imagine the mental gymnastics required not to trip over that if you weren't already jumping head first into what you thought was yet another copyright law bashing. I'm astounded at how few bullshit meters got pegged by this.

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