Missing Origins of Precision footage


In my first video I would love to have used the footage from the above video from 3:23 to 3:39 as it is the only pre-Johansson gage footage I’ve been able to find.

However, British Pathé is claiming copyright of this footage, even though it dates back to World War I.   To license about 16 seconds it would cost nearly $600 even though this is for completely non-commercial educational usage which will not be monetized.  Ironically, I can freely link to the entire video for you to enjoy.

I strongly suspect they own the rights to the DIGITAL version they created from the original film stock (for which I am grateful they have preserved so much and made available on youtube) but do not own the rights to the original film footage.  Assuming I’m correct in this circumstance (it could still be in copyright by other mechanisms of UK law, in particular, if the creators died less than 70 years ago and the copyright was passed to British Pathe) this appears to be a quirk of UK copyright law which allows for digital versions to be copyrighted even though also under UK copyright law you’re not supposed to be able to be able to re-copyright material which has fallen into public domain.

They also claim copyright on this footage of a USA Miss America pageant clip which has me further confused how they can make that claim.

If someone who is familiar with UK copyright could shed some light on the topics here I’d love to know more.

If there is a copy of this WWI footage (film or digital) that is not copyrighted I’d be most grateful.

Another remarkable moment is the “knocker-upper”  man at the beginning waking the women to start their shift at the factory.  Before electricity and alarm clocks were common this was quite normal practice until the 1950s (or even 1970s) in some areas.


  1. Paul McNulty

    Your videos are extremely encouraging to a would-be engineer. I make fortepianos, in the hundreds, but the culminating phase will be learning my trade. Thanks for the inspiration! The printing of gears for arcane cnc purposes, for example, might unlock certain processes I have vaguely in mind.

  2. dainel

    Pathe is a French company named after the brothers who founded it. Apparently they were one of the largest newsreel companies in the early 1900s. And they are over 120 years old, so it is possible for them to own the original footage. Though I don’t know if the copyright term has ended. British Pathe would be one of the foreign subsidiaries, right?

    I think companies don’t keep track of that. If they own it last year, they just assume that they would own it this year. There is no incentive to set up a copyright expiration tracking system. I can just imagine the conversation between the manager and the innovative employee. “So your new system would cost money and resources to implement and maintain but will generate absolutely no revenue. It will instead reduce our revenue by taking archival material out of our shop and making it free for everybody. Do you want me to reduce your salary to free?”

  3. stephen

    They are being greedy twunts, hardly surprising. BTW if you can get your hands on it check out “the elegant solution” from Australia. It’s a great series about engineering. You can buy it, of course, for $1800USD. I decided to pass.

    1. OBloodyHell

      Needs more info — “The Elegant Solution” comes up with several options. Adding “Australia” to it even reduces the likely intended choices for what you are suggesting.

  4. Humble Engineer

    Time will pass…your video will be found and appreciated….but the Pathe willbe long forgotten then.
    R.I.P. Pathe

  5. Peter Gerdes

    They almost certainly don’t own the copyright and even if they did (under US law at least) it would be clearly fair use. The problem is that YouTube is almost certainly using some derivitive of its process for US law involving the DMCA which basically means that they take down the video if someone makes a certain kind of claim that they own it.

    Unfortunately, the upshot tends to be that the company doesn’t need to really have copyright. They can basically just claim they do and dare you to challenge them. If you do you risk spending a bunch of money on lawyers (might even have some kind of jurisdiction clause that lets them sue in an American rule country where you still pay if you win). Point is that since they get money each time anyone liscences it they can afford to pay lawyers and just settle anytime they get a serious challenge while those who want to use clips realize they are better off just paying then going to court. It’s a form of legal protection racket and all they need is a claim that isn’t so absurd they’ll be sanctioned for arguing it.

  6. Pete

    Why not ask for forgiveness rather than permission? 🙂

    1. OBloodyHell

      Because Youtube will enforce it and ban his video. If he does it too much they’ll ban him.

      Google has decided to become a legal enforcement arm for anyone who wants to CLAIM copyright.

  7. Dale Mahalko

    These are GO / NO GO gauges and they are still commonly used today. They are mass produced measurement tools used for quickly checking for proper minimum and maximum tolerances of manufactured parts. The GO gauge fits properly but the NO GO should bind, being too small or too large to fit. These only have a single purpose in life and are scrapped out when they are no longer needed.


  8. JonW

    There’s a detailed explanation of the copyright situation in the thread at



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