Image rights - help!

I wonder if anyone on here can help with this.

I’m having trouble trying to get rights to use stills from some Spaghettis in my book; specifically, La resa dei conti, Il grande Silenzio, Faccia a faccia, Quien sabe? and Corri, uomo, corri. The main confusion I’m finding is that these films were made by production companies which are long defunct, so who “owns” the prints? Various DVD companies have released them, so surely none has exclusive rights…

As you can tell, I’m quite ignorant in this matter, so would be very grateful for advice.

What images are you hoping to use Austin?
Screen shots from the actual movies? Or posters, lobby cards etc?

It’s mostly stills from these films that I’ve screengrabbed from DVDs, but now you mention it there is a Big Gundown poster too (“Mr. Ugly Comes to Town”), which may well have been printed in Spaghetti Cinema (?).

Not my area of expertise I’m afraid. But maybe Tom Betts knows more than I do. He’s usually around here somewhere.
Any ideas Tom?

I would assume you could get permission from the companies that own the film these days and license them out to dvd distributors, etc. Comapnies like Surf Film, FilmExport Group, Minerva Pictures Group, etc. Surf Film owns at least “Quien Sabe?” because I just checked. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of another company who owned a lot of spaghettis… maybe someone else here will remember. It’s really bothering me now, hah.

All I know is it’s a big problem using anything that has a studios name on it. Glenn Erickson ran into this with Paramount when the Leone DVD’s were released a few years ago. They would not allow any of the stills, lobby cards, posters etc. with the name Paramount on them to be used. They would not grant Glenn the rights to use any material with their name on it when he created the section of the DVD where these items were shown. Glenn contacted me and I provided him with what European material that I had that did not have the Paramount name on them. I don’t know how a production company no longer in business could make a lawsuit against you for using stills and lobby cards with their name on it and I think that after 25 years after the films release it falls into public domain. I’m not a lawyer I only know what I’ve heard and what Glenn ran into. Why not contact Glenn through DVD Savant and ask him some detailed questions about your concerns etc. This is exactly why the ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST book was never released and he had stills given to him by Sergio Leone himself. So check it out before taking anything for granted.

Thanks Tom. Very helpful.

Your point about the studio’s name suggests that “in film” stills I have personally extracted from a DVD (and which do not therefore have a studio’s name on them) should be OK to use though, right? I’d assume I’ll need to pursue the relevant DVD company in that case. Does anyone on here know the people who run Wild East, for example? Most of my Spaghettis are on small independent DVD labels such as this one. How does this affect copyright?!

It amazes me how murky this area is. These things are sent to try us.

I know Chris Casey is pals with Ally Lamaj at WE. He might be able to help you there.
I was also thinking, did you mention elsewhere that Chris Frayling was your supervisor on the original thesis? If so, he might have some insight into this area seeing as though he has published a few books which have included images from similar films. Just a thought.

Yeah I asked Christopher about this, and his very sensible advice was “make sure the contract stipulates that this is the publisher’s responsibility before you sign it”. Alas, this being my first book, I was in no position to demand such things so it’s all down to me.

I think my La resa dei conti and Faccia a faccia DVDs might be from a company called “Franco Cleef” from memory. The packaging suggests that it’s from a small-scale company anyway… does this rings any bells anyone? Any contacts?

To all who may read this: apologies for all this badgering, but I’m at my wit’s end with this. The stupid thing is I’m only using 12 images (one of which is currently my avatar) for an academic text. It’s not like it’s a glossy coffee-table volume.

The Franco Cleef releases are all (correct me someone if I’m wrong here) unofficial and produced by a fan in Canada. I know a few folk here are in contact with him and, again, am sure that he is pals with Chris Casey. However, as I say, there should be no rights issues with FC as he won’t actually own them either.

Perhaps contacting the DVD companies who do have rights to these films might be a plan. Koch Media in Germany, for example, have the rights there for all the Sollima westerns while Eureka! have the rights here for Faccia a Faccia and Argent used to for Quien Sabe?

Yes good idea. I shall pursue the DVD companies. Also, that’s an interesting point you raise there about Franco Cleef. If I’ve screengrabbed from their disc, do I need permission from them, even if they don’t themselves have official “permission” to use the images… !!!


I would say not. But it would be courteous to contact him anyway I think and, as I say, he is as much a fan as the rest of us so would probably be happy for you to use them if you ask.

Oh very much so. I wasn’t suggesting I needn’t bother asking; just musing over the technicalities / ambiguities of “ownership” in this case.

“ambiguities of ownership”. That phrase could act as a dictionary description of Spaghetti Westerns. ;D

Ally Lamaj and Eric Mache of Wild East are both on Facebook and should be albe to answer your questions.

Wild East obtains all of their prints legally and pays for the rights to release them on DVD. Franco Cleef does fan releases and does or did not obtain or purchase the rights to the films he’s released. Franco Cleef (not his real name) is a good friend and I’m not making any judgments here. I appreciate his work as the major studios refuse to release these films on DVD. Anything you copy from Franco’s DVD’s you’ll have to worry about who owns the legal rights to these prints.

Great thanks Tom. I shall pursue these contacts.