Frequently Asked Questions About Public Domain Movies and RetroFilm Vault's Service

Which means the sidebar is on the right

I am interested in Titles X, Y, and Z, how much are they?

Call The RetroFilm Vault at (310) 622-7267 during business hours or email us with your want list of public domain movies. Prices depend on format and quantity of titles you require. Composing your want list yields the most accurate quote.

What is the turn around time for an order?

Usually 2-3 business days, but can vary with the size of the order.

What delivery formats are available?

We can deliver any high quality digital format you wish including Apple Quicktime ProRes Quicktime with other file formats and Code-ecs such as MPEG2, MPEG4, Some titles are available in high definition. Standard Definition programs are available in NTSC and PAL standards

How is my order delivered?

For small orders (for instance, a few movie trailers), we can upload the files for you to download.For larger order we put files on a hard drive to ship to you via Federal Express.

How long does shipping take? What is the shipping cost?

If we ship a physical hard drive or if we ship broadcast tape masters, it usually takes 2-3 business days to turn around and then send via Federal Express. Cost depends on the size of your order and is based on the Federal Express rates. In most cases, we prefer to bill your company's Fed Ex account number.

What is the quality of the material?

In most cases, the source masters that are in standard definition are from Digital Beta Master tapes transferred directly from the best available film prints making for high broadcast quality features for your use. You will not find better any place else. High definition titles were generally originated from film. The elements of certain rare archival footage are of varying degrees of condition and we always tell you up front what to expect.

How does a movie enter into the public domain?

There are several ways a film becomes a public domain movie. The work was either never registered with the United States Copyright Office or the renewal of the registration on the 28th year was not made. If copyright notice was not given during the years when such was a requirement, the film becomes public domain. Also, films commissioned by the U.S. Government are public domain.

How do we know that this material is really public domain?

All available titles have been researched with the U.S. Library of Congress and are public domain. As an international distributor, we could not sell them to you if they were not. Many titles that are foreign to the United States (like British, German, and French titles) are only public domain inside the United States. If you are not familiar with how U.S .copyright laws apply in your country please do your own due diligence. Titles list from the 1980's are referred to as "non-registered" titles, which means that they were never registered with the Copyright Office, and as a result, can be distributed like public domain titles.

What About the Music?

Except for in very rare instances, the music, if part of the original program, is free and clear to use when aired alongside the picture. As part of the production, music was assigned "synchronization rights"

Are there any restictions on the use of the materials?

You cannot separate the music and use in another production; or use a recognizable face to endorse a product. Otherwise, you are free to do what you wish with the material.

I have a stock footage need. Do you have __________ clip of xxx doing _____________?

It's possible. We often sell to those in need of footage for various projects, but we do not do extensive clip research. However, if your request is general such as footage of "UFO's or aliens from outer space" we know the library well enough to be able to help make suggestions. The cost of an entire program is usually less than it would be to pay a stock footage house for a 2-3 minute clip of the same material. With a purchase from The RetroFilm Vault, you can have the footage you want and a master to keep which can be used at any time, now or in the future, with no extra costs or licensing fees. You may use the second search box at the top of this page and type in a specific subject like the word "Irish" or just browse through our catalog.

What payment methods are available?

We accept wire transfer for larger orders and Visa, MasterCard, and American Express for very small orders (like a couple of movie trailers or cartoons)

Public Domain Films


Why PD?

Where it comes from

"Congress shall have the power...To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". - United States Constitution