Supreme Court Urged to Make Old Movies Digitally Available
An amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court last week by OmniQ noted to the justices that not a single title from 1960 was available for streaming on Netflix. Example titles might include Alfred Hitchcock's ‘Psycho’, Billy Wilder's ‘The Apartment’ and Stanley Kubrick's ‘Sparticus’.
OmniQ wants the Supreme Court to grant the petition filed by ReDigi, claiming to be able to move digital files from a user's computer to its servers and then to another user's computer in accordance with the First Sale Doctrine, which allows the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord to sell or otherwise dispose of that copy without copyright liability.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled against ReDigi. According to the ruling that is now being presented to the Supreme Court for scrutiny, ReDigi engaged in nothing more than unauthorized reproduction.
In its amicus brief (available here), OmniQ doesn't provide how its technology works, though it does say it is the assignee of inventions "that would rival those of ReDigi, and which provide a technologically different manner of shifting a work from one material object to another without reproduction."
As stated by OmniQ:
"As major streaming services become filmmakers in an effort to both compete using 'exclusives' and avoid the need to pay licensing fees, many films do not get a theatrical release open to everyone, or even DVD distribution, before being confined to 'exclusive' availability on a single streaming service," states the amicus brief, which then quotes film critic Leonard Maltin as saying, "Frankly, this is why I’m keeping all my DVDs. And it's a pain in the neck, because they take up space. But I don't trust the cloud. And I don't trust the marketplace to maintain titles that are in some cases obscure or not terribly commercial."
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is now hearing this from OmniQ's attorney John T. Mitchell:
"The public's access to movies is shrinking dramatically," he writes. "While there may be enough movies available to find something worth watching, the breadth of choice in movies was many times higher 20 years ago than it is today."