How to license soundbites from a defunct TV show for an iPhone app?
February 1, 2010 3:08 PM   Subscribe

How would I go about obtaining licensing/permission to use soundbites from a no-longer-running major network show in an iPhone application?

Or even so, what department would I approach to make an official application for the now-defunct show? A search of the app store yields no results for neither the show name nor the main character's name.

On the other hand, if I created an unauthorized version, would the approval process immediately shoot me down? I'd prefer to take the high road in this case and obtain permission, or even partner with the network, rather than get denied by Apple on account of licensing issues.
posted by neilkod to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Contact the production company/studio behind the show.
posted by jjb at 4:36 PM on February 1, 2010

Contact the studio. But do your homework. For example, both ER and Babylon 5 are owned by Warner Brothers. Even though neither appeared to be when they aired. In other words you wouldn't contact NBC or the creators of the shows.
posted by CarlRossi at 7:20 PM on February 1, 2010

Your app will get through Apple's approval process as long as it doesn't crash, doesn't use any private APIs and doesn't show anything pornographic or otherwise verboten.

When you sign up to the dev program, you explicitly absolve Apple of any legal responsibility that might result from your app being on sale. This means that Apple don't care about intellectual property infringement until a third party contacts them about your app. When that happens you are notified and given 5 days to resolve the dispute with the complaining party. If you don't resolve it to the third party and Apple's satisfaction in the 5 days, your app will then be removed from sale.

(Since the onus is on you to prove you've resolved the issue with the complainer, and they can ignore you, it would be an excellent way for devious people to quickly have competing apps removed from the store.)

I know of several developers who released first and asked permission later using copyrighted TV/Movie content. They both now have deals with the relevant property owners.

Also consider that owners of such properties will play hardball for licencing rights and you may end up giving them a large percentage of your revenue - and that's after Apple take their 30%.
posted by hjd at 8:07 PM on February 1, 2010

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