I am writing to complain about a section of the website for The New Zealand Film Archive. Specifically, in the 'About This Site' section there is a 'Copyright Statement'. Here's a portion of that statement:
"All still images and videos presented on this site are from the New Zealand Film Archive collection. No image or video may be reused without the permission of the Film Archive. The Film Archive acknowledges, with thanks, all the filmmakers and photographers who have granted us permission to reproduce their work on this site."
However, elsewhere on the site it's made clear that the Film Archive holds items dating as far back as 1895.
I find it quite distasteful that the Copyright Statement completely ignores the fact that some of the material the archive holds - all films made, or made available to the public (the later date), before 1958 - is in the public domain.
I think it is offensive to suggest that New Zealanders must seek permission before using such material however they see fit.
I understand that one of the key objectives of the Film Archive is to protect and preserve the material it holds. But I find extending unnecessary restrictions on access and use of that material, where such restrictions are not required by copyright, to be detrimental to another of the organization's goals: to encourage and promote public interest and awareness in film.
Copyright exists to promote artistic innovation in our society. But the incentive offered by copyright must be balanced against the risk of restraining materials that should rightfully be part of our national culture; free for all citizens to enjoy. This is why I find the blanket assertions of copyright, even over films that entered the public domain decades ago, to be so disagreeable.
Obviously, I believe that any use of public domain material should take into account the wishes of the original authors or filmmakers. But I believe that it's up to the user of the material to make such allowances; it's certainly not for copyright law to determine appropriate use, beyond preventing infringing acts.
I think the Film Archive is in a unique position to foster and promote the use of public domain material. To see the Archive fail to provide even rudimentary information as to the copyright status of the films it displays on the website is disappointing.