The Curious Copyright Case of “It’s A Wonderful Life”

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What better story for filmmakers on Christmas than to learn about the copyright issues surrounding the very famous (at least in the United States) holiday movie “It's A Wonderful Life”?

I recorded this again this year (i seem to do it every year) and I'm pretty much the only one in my family who gets excited about it (maybe because of the reasons in the video below – like I watched it repeatedly in my teens when it was “free”).

It is fascinating to also now know much more about why it became so popular and why it is now only shown on one network in the USA every season.

I don't know how John managed to dig up all this info, but it is even more detail than I probably wanted, but you've got to watch this if you ever wondered why this particular movie has become so popular and how copyrights can come and go.

Brilliant John! Thanks for making this and sharing it!

An Expired Copyright Is The Only Reason You've Seen ‘It's A Wonderful Life'

In this awesome analysis from John P. Hess over at, (also via Digg we get this completely detailed explanation:

It's A Wonderful Life” isn't just a Christmas classic — it's a classic film, period. Despite being the work of a famous director and vehicle for a big-name actor, it fell into obscurity soon after its release. How'd it earn its wings? Copyright and opportunism.

It's A Wonderful Life


The Curious Copyright Case of “It's A Wonderful Life”

Via Youtube Description:

It's A Wonderful Life has become a holiday tradition bolstered by near constant plays on television as the film fell into the public domain in 1975. But in the 90s, a studio would regain control over the film and put copyright to the test.

This lesson is proudly sponsored by RØDE Microphones:

(cover photo credit: snap from filmmakerIQ)

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