Hi community,

I'm doing the audio post for a short film. It's a graduation film project. I want to record a TV set while a soap opera is broadcasted to use it as background sound for a scene where the character interacts with the TV: she talks to it. So it's a very important part of the script.

Now the director tells me that there will be copyright issues if we use the recording. I really had no idea because I did this before with documentaries and it was fine. We're talking about a British film project that will be going to festivals around the world, hopefully ;)

What do you guys/girls know about this? Are there copyright issues and when?



3 Answers 3


There will definitely be copyright issues if you grab the audio with out getting clearance. The simple answer around this is to create one from scratch. If it's an important part of the script and the Actor is talking and interacting with the soap opera, I'd imagine it needs to be pretty specific and should be written and performed. Even if it doesn't need to be specific it should be created. That will solve your copyright issues.

In the past, I've had to create sit-coms, game shows, sports broadcasts and video games which characters on screen are watching/playing. Most of the time you never actually see the tv screen. Although I've had to recreate commercials where they have clearance on the picture but not for the music, so the audio needs to be re-built having a composer create a cue for the commercial. For the dialogue material we'll record Loop Group and build sound effects around the "show".

To me, this is all part of the fun in doing post sound. Good luck!


"the character interacts with the TV: she talks to it. So it's a very important part of the script."

If this is true, why not also film/record your own actors performing your own soap opera? Owning the rights via it being your own work is the best solution to avoiding copyright issues :)

  • @GaryMegregian @tim Thanks for the replies. We'll have to go with creating our own TV show, indeed. More work and more fun :) I'll talk to my director.
    – emh
    May 1, 2013 at 20:39

It would be sampling and it's technically a copyright infringement and illegal (even though e.g. many music artists do just that).

If you'd want to get around it, you could try to find public domain recordings (http://archive.org/details/audio) and sample from them. Or then take a (fairly small, unless the sample is identifiable) risk with sampling from copyrighted material. Also, you could ask for use rights directly from the copyright holders, if it's possible, even though that could be cumbersome or they could be impossible to contact (and if it's a small project and the sample is in a very minor role in the production, then they likely would not even care).

  • @Internet great advice, thanks. In this case it's a long sample, it will be heard in a whole scene. I'll check archive.org
    – emh
    May 1, 2013 at 13:57
  • 1
    You can't use that site eiter, please read the ToS - it's an educational archive not for commercial usage, even though they host public domain material. May 1, 2013 at 16:06

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