Film piracy is a hot topic. The entertainment industry is obviously against it and has moved for stricter penalties for piracy. The recent SOPA issue illustrates how desperately these entities want to control content that is available online.
There are those, on the other hand, who think that piracy should not be a penalized. This has created a lot of debate for and against piracy. If you think that all movies that are downloaded online that do not go through legitimate distribution services like Netflix are considered as acquired illegally, then think again. There are many movies that have entered the public domain and thus you can movies online without fear of breaking the law.
What does it mean if a movie is in the public domain? In this state the film ceases to be owned by an organization, the government or an individual. It becomes common property. A film can enter into public domain if the people behind the work fails to renew its copyright. It is a slightly contentious issue though because a film is made up of various elements and these may have different copyright notices. For example, the film Charade has a missing copyright notice that has resulted in it being in the public domain but the original music used in the movie is still in copyright, along with the original story of the movie.
If you’re a true film geek you can download movies on the internet that are in the public domain – movies that represent different points in cinematic history. Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, James Stewart, and John Wayne are just some of the legendary actors that have films in the public domain. Night of The Living Dead, which is already a horror classic, is also in the public domain.