May 20, 2022

U.S.: Copyright Protection On Motion Pictures Turns 100 Years Old

Update: Commentary on the AP article liked below by Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communications Officer, Duke University.
See: “Examining an ‘essential’ copyright”

From the AP:

The vaults at the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., represent decades of work by copyright officials to not only protect the rights of filmmakers, but also preserve their movies for future generations.

The collection is in many ways the culmination of work that began 100 years ago Friday, when U.S.-made movies earned their own copyright designation and transformed from a fledgling industry into a global economic and cultural juggernaut.

“Copyright was very essential from the very beginning of the industry,” said Patrick Loughney, chief of the Packard campus, a former Federal Reserve bunker 90 minutes west of Washington, D.C., that has been converted into a state-of-the-art archive. It is a dual safe-haven, intended to protect both the film’s creators and, in the process, establish a collection that outlasts a film’s box-office haul.

“It’s basically been a Noah’s Ark effort to save the creative history of the United States,” he said.

Congress carved out a film copyright designation on Aug. 24, 1912, and within weeks, filmmakers were registering their dramas, documentaries and comedies. The first was “Black Sheep’s Wool,” a melodrama about the troubles of European nobility who came to North America.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.