06 | 06 | 2017

The Study on Derivative Use of Public Domain Content – Film Industry Focus

Photo: FreeImages.com/Alexandre Saes

The European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights at the EUIPO published a new study originally titled “Derivative Use of Public Domain Content - Film Industry Focus“. This study aims at demonstrating the way how existing content, both the one in the public domain and that still protected by copyright, is used by film producers for new creative projects.

The study shows that the content in the public domain (the content no longer protected by copyright and hence could be used without having to obtain licences from the copyright holder) can be very interesting material for film adaptations. During the period studied in the analysis (from 2000 until 2010), such film content attracted over 330 million people into the cinemas throughout Europe, which makes four percent of the overall cinema audience in Europe. The content in the public domain is used by many film producers and there are examples of very successful films produced exactly by having used or adapted such content. At the same time, attendance for cinematographic adaptations based on copyright protected content corresponded to 35% of the total cinematographic audience in Europe.

Furthermore, the study indicates the fact that, in view of the film industry sector, the impact of time dimension diminishes the importance of the content in the public domain that could be used as a basis for film adaptation. Thus, the study provides data on the likelihood of using a book as a basis for film adaptation twelve years after first publication to be 50% lower than in the first five years following first publication. The odds of adapting a book into a film 70 years after its first publication are even 95% lower than in the first five years after its first publication. The research has shown that the decline of the derivative value of creative content affects copyrighted works in general, except for the most important masterpieces of human creation.

On the other hand, it is also interesting that the books no longer protected by copyright, that were subject to film adaptation, attract much higher readers’ attention than the recent ones that are still under copyright, but were not used as a basis for making a film.

The study, including the executive summary in Croatian, is available at the following link.


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