How a Copyright Mistake Created the Modern Zombie - Plagiarism Today
The first prints of “Night of the Living Dead” didn’t use the title we know it as today. Instead, it referred to the movie as “Night of the Flesh Eaters”, one of the working titles of the movie. However, before release, the title was changed to its more familiar version but, when changing the title card, the distributor forgot to put the copyright notice on the final print.
Though that would not be a large issue today (the Copyright Act of 1976 removed all notice requirements), in 1968 that meant the movie was not protected by copyright and, instead, was placed immediately into the public domain.
As a result, reports say that George Romero, the movies co-writer and director, saw little to no money from the film, despite it grossing some over $30 million at the box office (some estimates as high as $42 million).
The distributor, allegedly the company that made the mistake, kept all of the money.
Despite the legal flub, the movie was still a major success. Shot on a budget of $114,000, the movie was still a commercial success and it seemed Romero was destined to make a series of great sequels based off of it, sequels that wouldn’t make the same mistake.