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Florence Stoker

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Florence Stoker was adamant that F.W. Murnau and his production company should be responsible for paying damages when they made Nosferatu without first seeking permission.

The movie so closely followed Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, that no one could really believe it didn't infringe on Stoker's copyright.  Florence, Stoker's widow, filed litigation against the movie makers for copyright violations.

Although she won her case in the British court, and all copies of the film in Europe had to be (and were) destroyed, one copy of Nosferau, located in the United States, survived...legally.

How did that happen?

Because of a technical failure, the book (originally published in 1897) no longer had copyright protection in America (due to an error in the copyright notice). Therefore, no one could successfully claim that Nosferatu violated the book's copyright protections in America.

Those legal conclusions led to this result:  No one, in the States, could be compelled to turn-over a copy of the film to be destroyed. All existing copies of Nosferatu are thus reportedly traced-back to that single, surviving American copy.


Media Credits

Image depicting Florence Stoker, online courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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