Don't Let Deadlines Lapse!


 I always liked the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life. No one else in my family seems to like it; they think it's hokey and too long. Some of those criticisms may be valid, but I still spend time watching it every year because it has always been a Christmas tradition for me. Watching the film has been a tradition for many over the years. However, most don't know that a legal lapse likely led to it becoming a holiday favorite.

            When It's a Wonderful Life was released in theatres, it received mixed reviews from critics and mediocre box office returns. Though it received some Academy Award nominations, there were little indications at the time that it would go on to become a beloved film. So, what happened? At the time of the film's release, U.S. copyright protection only lasted 28 years, but could be renewed at the end of that time period for another 28 years. However, Republic Pictures, the holder of the copyright at the time, let the copyright lapse in mid-1970s. As a result, the film entered the public domain. This meant that anyone could broadcast the film without paying any royalties to its producers. As one can imagine, networks with airtime to fill during the holiday season loved the idea of showing a film without a large royalty price tag, so many stations aired it ad nauseam. This is why many children of the 1970s and 1980s remember this movie being on television all the time in December. When VHS tapes became popular, copies of the film were mass produced by numerous companies. The film appeared ubiquitous, so watching it became a holiday tradition in many households. Since that time, the law has changed and NBC now exclusively airs It's a Wonderful Life.

            There is an important lesson to be learned from this: deadlines matter in the law. Almost all claims one can make have ‚Äústatutes of limitation." This means that if you do not take legal action within a certain period of time, your claim will be barred and you will not be able to get relief from the courts. For instance, the statute of limitation for many personal injury actions in Maine is 6 years from the date of the incident.

            Do you have a claim that you can bring, but you haven't gotten around to talking to an attorney yet? Put it off no longer. Depending upon the type of claim, you may have a few years or only a few months. If you have a claim, contact Gilbert & Greif before time runs out.

 Erik M.P. Black


Source: Why Wonderful Life Comes but Once a Year - Slate Magazine,