Berlin Wall Video Responses, Copyright and Background Information

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Published on: October 6, 2009

Unlike my much more elaborate video “Berlin Wall – Lessons Learned”, my “shorty” in between, titled “Moments in History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall” got a lot more attention than I would have expected. The nearing anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall plays probably into this, because I was contacted by various parties over the past months requesting my permission to use my video for a project of them.

The list of people who contacted me is long, an independent film maker in Venezuela, a French TV show called “Les films faits à la maison”, a project manager  with Epigram Pte Ltd in Singapore who is working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore on the Welcome Reception for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting and the Unveiling Ceremony of the Berlin Wall on 10 November 2009 in Singapore, the German Embassy in the republic of Moldau or Moldawien for a the screening at a rock concert with projected 20,000 visitors at the largest square of the republic, the Square of the Republic in the capital Chisinau for the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall in Berlin and some teachers and other individuals.

I was able to tell all of them about the stuff when it comes to MY creative work (the editing of the videos, my images or my written content), which could be protected by copyright laws, if I am not mistaken.


I made it clear that everybody is free to use it however they like. I won’t and never intended to claim any rights for this stuff.  I did not protect it under copyright law. I think that this is way too important for society as a whole that there should be anybody able to  block access to this material based on copyright claims.

Actually, when it comes to the videos itself, I even put them up on the Internet Archive at, where I had to acknowledge that I do not claim any rights for it and agree to making it available freely (Public Domain).

copyright-ogkI think that it would be appropriate to include my name in the credits, if the stuff that I created is being used, but that is not a legal issue and more a matter of respect and acknowledgement.

Since I am interested in this subject (which is obvious), I would also appreciate, if people would share with me any content that is produced on their end. Sending me that stuff in digital format would be good enough for me although I encourage everybody to make that stuff generally available to the public on the Internet anyway. 

Now the problem is with the material that I used for my videos. There does the situation looks a little bit different. There I cannot give something that I don’t have. I did not shoot that footage myself. It came from various sources. Some I was able to trace back, but most of it I could not. So here is what I know and also what I think, including possible contacts and places where it might be possible to get more information about the legal situation of the used material.

Sources for my Moments in History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall Video

The short video of mine titled “Moments in History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall” featured primarily images that were also used  in the German documentary DVD “Spiegel TV – Der Fall der Mauer” (ISBN #: 3-937901-04-3). This documentary is unfortunately not listed in nor to find out more, but the contact information are printed on the DVD itself. There it states:
Spiegel TV
Brandstwiete 19
D-20457 Hamburg
Telefon: +49 (0)40 – 301 08-0
Fax: +49 (0)40 – 301 08-222

For the Guenther Schabowsky segment where he announces the new travel law, I used the video footage from the Spiegel TV DVD, but the audio from somewhere else. This scene was on public television news in West Germany and East Germany as well, so I don’t think that there would be any problem with that.

I used 3 scenes of the demolition of the Wall that were not from the Spiegel TV DVD.

CategoryImages-Thumbs-National_Geographic_logo One was from the National Geographic documentary “Turning Points Of History: The Berlin Wall” where I only got the “pirated version” of. I tried to buy the DVD, but I could not find it anywhere, including the official National Geographic Online Shop. The only place I know where you can get it from (where I also got it myself) is this PIRATED TORRENT, where you can download the documentary in AVI format. This documentary is listed in and you can find out more here.

cnn-trans-logo A second scene was from CNN, which I found at their web site at CNN ImageSource. Record #: 91482586 from Date: 20-Mar-1990. In the case of CNN, I just placed an order for a screener in digital format of that footage, just to find out more. Since there is no price tag nor any payment that I had to make, I will see what will happen. The confirmation page stated that somebody from CNN will contact me regarding this order. We will see.

The 3rd and last one was from Getty Images.Footage (RR) #1013-195

Sources for my 30 Min Video Berlin Wall – Lessons Learned V4.0

gettyimages-logo-trans My long video (30+ minutes) “Berlin Wall – Lessons Learned V4.0” uses way to many different sources that I could name them all. Just the tons of photographs alone came from all over the place.

The versions before that (Version 1, Version 2 and Version 3) used even more. I was happy that I found the National Geographic documentary, because it contained many of the video images that I used before but in better quality (I used low res 320×240 video segments from videos that I found on YouTube and other video sharing web sites). The Spiegel documentary contains even more images and in DVD quality. Because of that I plan to make even another version 5 of my video. The “Moments in History” video was only supposed to be a teaser of things to come. :)

Since my video is not commercial in nature and is an educational documentary depicting historic events of high significance for society, I am pretty sure that the U.S. copyright law exception for “fair use” can be applied to it or at least it should be.

I am not a lawyer, so take that statement with a grain of salt of course.

ia_logo_rev2 Laws are also different in every country. Maybe it is legal where you live without all the fuzz that we have to deal with here in the United States. However, for some of the material I do know the legal status. Specifically the Newsreel footage that I used for the images from the early 1960s. That material was also used in commercial documentaries like the one from National Geographic, which makes it easily appear as if this is protected commercial content and not public domain. Who knows about the rest of the material. Well, National Geographic for example, I would guess. :)

“In the age before television people saw the news every week in their neighborhood movie theater, in the newsreels that were shown with every feature film. These short news films were produced by the Big Five Hollywood studios and contained six or seven stories usually one or two minute in length, covering politics and sports and fashions and whatever might entertain the movie audience to keep them coming back every week.
A selection of these newsreels is now available on DVDs made by Professor Steven Schoenherr for history classes at the University of San Diego.

Newsreel Collection of 44 DVDs is sold for $299.00 USD

”These visual historical documents have been reproduced from reference cassettes at the National Archives in College Park MD from the Universal Newsreel gift collection made to the federal government in 1970 of 30 million feet of film from 1929-67. In living black-and-white, they offer a fascinating and unique view of an era when motion pictures defined our culture.”

This means that the footage itself is public domain. However, since the footage that is floating around is most likely from those DVDs, giving credits to Professor Steven Schoenherr and his team at the University of San Diego for the preservation and restoration/conversion work is not only nice and fair, but also reveals sources properly and provides the info how and where to access those primary sources (for other historians and researchers).
Here are links to the Newsreel videos that include material about the Berlin Wall.

Public Domain Newsreel Footage about the Berlin Wall

The Wall, 1962/08/16 universal-logo-trans
Big freedom bell rings in West Berlin on 1st anniv of Berlin Wall; checkpoints; U.S. army patrols in jeep; Brandt leads memorial services (partial newsreel).

Berlin, 1961/08/31
News in Brief story on Berlin, showing pictures of US soldiers and tanks and British troops who convoy boy going to school, building Berlin Wall, young couple waves from window (partial newsreel)
Related: Berlin Airlift 1948 and East Berlin Uprising 1953

Berlin Airlift increased, 1948/10/25
(1) Berlin Airlift increased (2) UN delegate speaks (partial newsreel).

1953 anniversary of 1953 East Berlin uprising
anniversary of 1953 East Berlin uprising celebrated in West Berlin, mayor Willy Brandt lays wreath, old film clips of ’53 uprising (partial newsreel from 1959)

Berlin Siege. Gen. Clay Returns To Report On Red Crisis, 1948/07/22
(1) The World Crisis – “Berlin: While the Western Allies increase their aerial shuttle into Berlin, Russia’s refusal to negotiate leaves issue in doubt. The threat of a show-down brings the world close to war. East Anglia: Landing on fields used by our 8th Air Force during the war, sixty Superforts arrive on training mission. Berlin crisis lends significance to huge bombers’ arrival. Washington: Gen…

Uneasy Peace. Algeria Tense Under Cease-Fire, 1962/03/22
1) Algeria rebels have signed peace with France, but right wing army still fighting (2) Argentina election (3) Jackie Kennedy rides elephant in India (4) Russia trying to close access to West Berlin, U.S. army sends tanks on autobahn in Germany (5) fashions (6) skating world championships (complete newsreel)

Labor Merger. AF of L and CIO Join Forces, 1955/12/05
(1) NY meeting of CIO and AFL for merger, Walter Reuther and George Meany, and Ike from his office speaks (Ike’s voice over pictures of the convention) (2) largest jet helicopter unveiled (3) British jet transport Comet 3 (4) Conant rejects Berlin change (5) Modern Screen awards (6) orange cow in NY with bathing beauties for PR stunt (7) Arthur the robot built by high school youth (8) sports: Rams vs Colts football (complete newsreel)
Related, Hungarian Revolt of 1956

1956/10/24 Freedom Road. Hungarian Patriots force Red Retreat
(complete newsreel) SOURCE: 200 Universal 29-88, National Archives, College Park MD
Hungarian Revolt – red star ripped out of Hungary flags, patriots guard frontier, medical supplies airlifted, demonstrations in US

1956/11/01 War in Egypt. British and French Bomb Its Key Cities
(complete newsreel) SOURCE: 200 Universal 29-89, National Archives, College Park MD
“Hungary Free But Faces Threat Of New Red Invasion” – the end of a 6-day fight, Hungary was free, scenes of Budapest; funeral

1956/11/08 Landslide for Eisenhower
(complete newsreel) SOURCE: 200 Universal 29-91, National Archives, College Park MD

1956/11/12 Near East Crises
“Last Stand. Hungarians Fight On As Thousands Flee” – fighting in streets of Budapest, flags burn, refugees flee to Austrian border, sad crying faces

Also related,but could not find video on

1953/03/16 – Refugees From Reds
(partial newsreel) SOURCE: 200 Universal 26-448 National Archives, College Park MD
“Berlin: Thousands of Eastern Germans seek sanctuary in West Germany from their hopeless fate under communism. Daily they cross the border into West Berlin, often at the risk of their lives. Here they are screened for disposition throughout the Bonn Republic.”

1953/07/27 – First Films of Korea Armistice
(complete sound newsreel) SOURCE: 200 Universal 26-486 National Archives, College Park MD
– First parcels of $15 million worth U.S. food handed out in West Berlin for 200,000 East Germans who crossed the Iron Curtain
–  News In Brief – Monsoon weather and floods in Japan as U.S. planes drop food and supplies; In West Germany, Czechs show home-made armored car used to escape across border

shorts84 Another Update January 2010:

Another source was also the 9 minutes black and white mini documentary from 1962 called “The Wall”, which was produced by Hearst Metrotone News Inc. The same content was also used by the National Geographic documentary as well as the documentary by Spiegel TV. I must have used the footage from the 1962 documentary, because there was no TY channel or other branding watermark logo in  the segments that I used for my video. I downloaded the documentary somewhere on the internet. I also saw it on the video sharing web site “” but did not use that version for my video, due to the poor quality of it there.

Additional Stuff

I used some (smaller and modified) images of official East German documents that belonged to me  in the post of my personal written account of the events surrounding the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I uploaded larger versions and additional documents to a (non public) Google Picasa Album of mine. There you can also find the image (and more) of the personal document of mine with the Travel VISA in it for example. I made those images available to the entities who asked for it.

My Moments in History Video at the Internet Archive at You can download the AVI version of it  in 640×480 pixels resolution at this address or from Vimeo at this URL.
Version 4.0 of my Lessons Learned video at the Internet Archive.

You might also want to check out the following links regarding stuff that I wrote and edited about the subject “Berlin Wall”. Blog posts of mine to the subject.

Somebody who contacted me pretty early regarding my “Lessons Learned” Video was somebody from Berlin with the Name “Remo” who is working on a Memorial Project directly in Berlin Itself. I won’t publish his Email address here, but you might want to check  out the projects web site at

He should also have collected some more material since the last time I communicated with him. Asking does not hurt, right?

Conclusion and Final Words

Any help with determining the legal status of any of the historic footage about the events surrounding the Berlin Wall is appreciated. I think that the historic significance for the society as a whole should outweigh any commercial interest by a single entity or person when it comes to the non-commercial use of the material. Anything but that would be terribly wrong in my opinion. This would basically restrict access to original sources of events that should not be forgotten and thus represent a very sneaky form of censorship in order to be able to possibly manipulate public opinion about the events and how they actually happened.

I just have to think about statements like “Ronald Reagan” was responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall and rubbish like that. Yeah, he had a small part in it, but only a small, contributing to the events as a whole. No, “Michael Gorbachev” can also not be solely credited with this achievement although he as well had a small part in it as well. Things were not that simple, black and white or linear in nature. That would be nice though and some people would like, if everybody believes that egocentric and reduced view on the actual historic events, but we would definitely not do us a favor by allowing this to happen.


Carsten Cumbrowski

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