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Remarkable historical footage is locked behind paywalls. It’s time to set it free

Most people can quickly summon up images of fans screaming for the Beatles in the 1960s or the Hindenburg disaster of 1937, even as relatively few were witness to those events. These and other iconic seconds of footage shape our shared understanding of 20th-century history. However, as the British filmmaker Richard Misek explores in this short video essay, many such images don’t belong to the public. Indeed, accessing and presenting historical footage can be prohibitively expensive, and owning the rights to it is exceedingly lucrative. This results in some of the most vivid images of notable events languishing unseen. Using stunning archival imagery, cleverly designed on-screen text and a frenetic soundtrack, Captured Images tells the story of audiovisual ownership and the monetisation of history itself, making a compelling argument that this vital material belongs to the public. Misek punctuates the point at his film’s end as he credits, in large bold text, the image libraries from which he bought the footage used.

Director: Richard Misek

Music: Stereoart

2 September 2021

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