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Media (Apple) Media Television

Can iTunes Resurrect Old Time TV? 214

An anonymous reader writes "With iTunes selling a couple of popular TV shows now there has been significant hesitation from other television producers to follow suit and put their content on the Web. It has also sparked activity from the actors unions who want additional compensation for what appears online. But there is also existing content that stands to be revived in this new context, older television shows from the 50's and 60's that have been squeezed out of the traditional broadcast by popular shows of more recent vintage. It was suggested to a producer who is presently digitizing 27 episodes of a 1950's show called Captain Zero to offer it up on iTunes for a buck an episode. Is this an opportunity for these old shows to strike while the iron is hot and while the owners of more contemporary content are caught like deers in a headlight? As the Captain Zero article points out purveyors of old time radio programs have enjoyed a significant revival by embracing web-based technology. Why not old time TV?"
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Can iTunes Resurrect Old Time TV?

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  • Public domain, et al (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eric(b0mb)Dennis ( 629047 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:45PM (#13905982)
    Have you seen the bargain DVD rack at your local Wal-Mart?

    You can get entire seasons of old TV for a buck....
  • ipod... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Brilleklar ( 924846 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:46PM (#13905989)
    I really hope they strike when the iron is hot. I would enjoy watching some old shows again, especially those from before my birth.
  • Public Domain TV (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jonathan ( 5011 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:53PM (#13906027) Homepage
    Also, isn't most of the content they're talking about already public domain? Hell, some of it can be downloaded from the Internet Archive already.

    Not in general. No TV is old enough to enter the public domain naturally. What happened with some programs and movies (even such famous movies as the original "Night of the Living Dead") is that they were never officially copyrighted or were incorrectly copywrited during the time when copyright was not automatically granted.

  • Re:I'm down- (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:56PM (#13906041) Homepage
    It will be interesting to see however, considering the grumbling of the music execs about the 99cent fixed price, whether we will see an ownership type system like iTunes (I understand the vagaries of the copy protection on iTunes- I am being general) or a subscription system like Yahoo Music. With the subscription, I would be like cable I guess, with different levels and channels available, i.e. subscribe to HBO and get to watch movies whenever (sort of like Adelphia in demand), or subscribe to TBS and get the whole Segal and Dirty Harry catolg etc....
    When you stand back and think about it, we live in amazing times consumer-technologically. 5 years ago I thought burning my own CDs was awesome- now I have my iPod with thousands of songs hooked up to my car....
  • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @05:42PM (#13906221) Homepage
    In the old studio system it was different. You were an actor, you did your schtick, you got a check. If your movie turned out to be the next Casablanca, you got maybe a token bonus. If your movie was a flop, you still drew a nice salary.

    And then that changed, and actors were willing to accept less guaranteed pay for more points. And studios were happy to offer points because it mitigates their risk. This has three effects 1: more and more expensive movies get made, as the risk is artificially spread out over multiple parties, 2: the median actor salary goes down, and 3: actors take a more active role in the production.

    I'm still not sure whether the points system makes movies better, like tipping makes service in resturants better, or if it just means that most actors starve. Either way, the actor's guild is just looking for the same types of income stream with shows online that they get from syndication and overseas views.

  • Re:Well (Score:3, Informative)

    by servognome ( 738846 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @06:28PM (#13906399)
    So, in other words, since people who create software were dumb enough not ot form unions, actors deserve the same treatment, despite the fact that they do have unions?

    The average actor in the union makes $7500 a year acting, the average programmer makes several times that. This has less to do with unions and more to do with standard contract of the industry. Programmers tend to go towards salary (+ maybe stock options) which is a much safer bet than royalty based pay scales.
  • Re:eyeteeth (Score:5, Informative)

    by spisska ( 796395 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @07:11PM (#13906584)
    For what it's worth, my local library (Arlington, VA) has complete collections of the old Avengers, Secret Agent, and I Spy (the one with Bill Cosby) on DVD, plus a lot of other BBC stuff -- Poirot Mysteries, Monty Python, various mini-series, etc -- some HBO series, and quite a few old (and not so old) films. My point is that it's worth checking out libraries in your area before looking into cosmetic dentistry.
  • Re:Let me know when (Score:3, Informative)

    by Manchot ( 847225 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @07:32PM (#13906661)
    Some of those old Looney Tunes episodes are extremely racist. The censoring's not just to protect kids: it's to remove offensive material.
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @08:52PM (#13906882) Homepage Journal
    No TV is old enough to enter the public domain naturally.
    Or ever will be. Despite the Consitution's insistence that IP be protected for a "limited time" (Section 8, clause 8) we keep seeing retroactive extensions of copyright. Before 1919, the "natural" expiration of copyright occurred after 28 years, with a possible 14 year extension. Since then, we've seen a series of retroactive extensions of old copyrights. Works for hire (which would cover most TV shows) were extended to 75 years in 1976 and to 95 years in 1998 — just in time to keep all the Hollywood 30s classics from entering the public domain.

    If the current term stands, we'll start to see 50s TV shows enter the public domain 40 years from now. But of course it won't. Not unless Congress magically finds the backbone to stand up to the media monopolies. Or until the Supreme Court realizes that allowing retroactive extensions makes a joke of clause 8 and reserves itself on this issue.

  • Absolutely. (Score:3, Informative)

    by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @09:38PM (#13907018) Homepage Journal
    We all know that the best movies evar have all been made the last 10 years.

    Kurosawa, Tarkowski, Wells, Hitchcock.

    Seven Samurai, Solaris, Citizen Kane, Psycho.

    They are old!

    Burn them!
  • Looney Tunes DVDs (Score:3, Informative)

    by meehawl ( 73285 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <maps.lwaheem>> on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:48AM (#13907563) Homepage Journal
    Looney Tunes. They're old, and I don't think they are regularly broadcast anywhere.

    Funny thing about Looney Tunes, they have been available for years on DVD []. So it was a simple job over the last few years to rip them to a video Archos and enjoy them, Or on a Treo. Or a phone. Or a PSP. I'm sorry for so many people that it's taken the iPod so long to finally get some kind of video playback. Portable cartoons rule. It's nice having complete runs of Simpsons and Futurama ready to go at the click of a button...
  • by soapdetective ( 927026 ) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @08:01AM (#13908439)
    I am the guy who runs the Soap Detectives [] podcast.
    All of the material I podcast is in the public domain as is almost everything OTR that's available online. Nobody is being ripped off, simply because there's nobody to rip off in the first place.

    I started putting video online, specifically encoded for the iPod, but the cost of bandwidth is pretty high. I finance Soap Detectives by asking for donations, but with, on average, less than 2% of users donating anything that's not a workable business model.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant