Victor Grigas, a video producer and storyteller who has worked with the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, posted on the Wikimedia Video Production House Facebook group yesterday that he had migrated Frank Capra’s Second World War films from YouTube to Commons so they can be used on Wikipedia.
The Why We Fight series of films was made by Frank Capra in response to Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda film, The Triumph of the Will. Capra described Riefenstahl’s film as ‘a psychological weapon aimed at destroying the will to resist’. Capra later wrote in his 1971 autobiography,
‘I sat alone and pondered. How could I mount a counterattack against Triumph of the Will; keep alive our will to resist the master race? I was alone; no studio, no equipment, no personnel.’
Under the US Copyright Act 1976, “a work prepared by an officer or employee” of the federal government “as part of that person’s official duties” is not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law and is therefore in the public domain.
Grigas used the Video2Commons tool to migrate the files from YouTube. There is quite a lot of US government public domain video on YouTube, which you can search through Creative Commons’ search site. Although low resolution versions at 320p already existed on Commons, the transfer means there are now high quality ones available.
“I just saw the low-resolution versions on Wikipedia and thought that these films might have a better transfer out there and I was right. I saw these films in film school and they were enormously influential, I mean they copy elements of them in Star Wars. So I thought I should improve these articles”, Grigas said.
If you find any good public domain video online and add it to Commons for use on Wikipedia, why not tell us about it?