You can watch old TV shows on YouTube, but is it legal?
Fascinating piece in the L.A. Times this weekend, about how many old TV shows are showing up on YouTube. And when I say "old" I don't mean All in the Family or Charlie's Angels. I'm talking about stuff from the 40s and 50s, like Captain Midnight, Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, old Dinah Shore shows, and old commercials.
It's great to watch these early shows online (you can watch shows from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today on our own In2TV), but is it legal for people to just put these shows online?
It's not as simple as owning a copyright or not, since the copyright status of many early TV shows is either in doubt, confusing to figure out, or non-existent. It's rather complex, but the article gives a good primer.
One factoid from the article that made my stomach get all queasy: Ernie Kovacs' widow trusted a lawyer who said he would take care of all of the old kinescopes that were stored in her home. And he "took care of them" by loading them into a truck and dumping them into the water. Yikes.