2 Replies Latest reply on Nov 27, 2017 10:14 PM by Michael Tomko

    Usage restrictions on Government films - source of "Undetermined" status?

    techhistorynerd Adventurer

      I'm a little confused as to the reasons and implications of the restrictions statements on some of the films which are uploaded to the ARC database.  For example, this film:


      TESTS AND DEMONSTRATIONS OF ORDNANCE MATERIEL [1918 -1919]:  https://catalog.archives.gov/id/24703


      appears to be created by a government agency, yet its usage restriction is:


      Use Restriction(s):  Undetermined


      A naive interpretation of that annotation would seem to indicate that there is some potential of an active copyright or other usage restriction on the movie, despite both its age and authorship.  I'm at a bit of a loss to understand what the potential basis for restriction would be in a case like this, unless perhaps it is simply a matter of having to label the movie's status as undetermined due to lack of staff time to verify there is no non-government-produced content used in the movies?  If it is some other issue at play, who would potential re-users need to talk to for an apparently all-government-produced film?


      I did find the Use Restriction Status | National Archives page but it seems to be a general documentation of the catalog tag and doesn't offer any additional insight into the specifics of "Undetermined" as applied to films...

        • Re: Usage restrictions on Government films - source of "Undetermined" status?

          The use of the "Undetermined" designation under Use Restrictions is utilized by NARA's Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch when an item may or may not have rights issues. This could be due to footage from other sources that was used in the film, the use of a copyrighted likeness, et cetera. Research would be required to determine if such rights issues still linger, though such research lies outside the regular processing work of the department.


          However, the Motion Picture branch has textual records on many of the items within its holdings, including the film you are referencing, that researchers are allowed to look through in the Motion Picture research room. These records may include rights information.


          As to the Motion Picture branch statement on use, generally items that have a rights status that is unknown or cannot be determined will be made available with a warning that responsibility for their use lies with the end user. If you would like more details on the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch's use statement, you can reach staff by email at mopix@nara.gov.

          5 people found this helpful
          • Re: Usage restrictions on Government films - source of "Undetermined" status?

            The self propelled Artillery tractor had no ROP,  Roll Over Protection.  The soldiers did not attempt to cover their ears or mastoid process, so it is highly evident that they may have suffered from hearing damage and tinnitus. The guns and tank designs most likely had a patent. The engines were most likely made in the USA, but it is not visible and there is No logo on the tank. The tanks display no emission control standards evident by the smoke. A copyright lasts 70 years after the death of the creator. The film and testing were related to the War Department and photographed by a government employee, SGT Jackel. 


            This film would make an excellent Safety Talk, whereby an argument can even be made toward the conservation of hearing and even trees?

            1 person found this helpful