Licensing Advertisements?
January 17, 2006 11:53 AM   Subscribe

How would I go about licensing hundreds of TV commercials for sale as a repackaged product?

Say, for example, I wanted to sell a searchable index of TV commercials that would show the actual commercials for results. How much time and money should I expect to invest in securing the rights to do that? Naturally I'd prefer the simplest, cheapest option.
posted by scottreynen to Law & Government (9 answers total)
It really depends on the number of commercials you want in the db, and the usual licensing considerations, including, medium in which db is delivered and length of time you wish license to be for, to name only a few. This could be a massive undertaking, both in terms of time and money, if you are considering more than a few commercials.
posted by anathema at 12:29 PM on January 17, 2006

The more commercials you want, the more rights holders you have to deal with. To complicate matters, some of the licenses may have different terms than others, meaning the licenses have to be closely managed to avoid potential infringements.
posted by anathema at 12:32 PM on January 17, 2006

At a minimum you'll need to deal with the advertising agencies that created the ads and the companies whose products are advertized. Some ads could have other rights holders as well, for example the production company. Actors who performed, musicians and music publishers whose material was used may have only licensed the advert for a specific run. Etc.

Do you have any contacts in the advertisin business? That would be a good place to start sorting this all out.
posted by alms at 12:38 PM on January 17, 2006

You may want to check out, which looks like it's providing a very similar service.

The cost of undertaking such a project is going to be massive: mostly in music and residual rights for actors, as others have pointed out.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 12:54 PM on January 17, 2006

Response by poster: The cost of undertaking such a project is going to be massive

In that case, it's not going to happen. That seems odd to me, though, as I'd think those who own rights to commercials would want them replayed as widely as possible. Oh well.
posted by scottreynen at 1:41 PM on January 17, 2006

I've never done anything like this before, so I'm talking out my ass, but how about drafting a letter that says something like...

Dear X,

I'm creating a compilation blah blah blah, and I would like to include your X commercial. My funds are limited, so I can't pay your a large licensing fee, but I can disseminate your commercial to all of my clients. And naturally I'd give your credit.



Perhaps this should be gone over by a lawyer, and you should spell out the specific way you're using the material. Anyway, you could then send out the letter to all the people involved, and only include the commercials from the people who grant your rights.

Isn't this basically what street photographers do? They snap shots of hundreds of people and then run up to them and ask them for permission to use the pictures. They use the ones that they can.
posted by grumblebee at 1:57 PM on January 17, 2006

The challenges aren't likely to be with the agencies or the advertisers, but the actors, musicians, director and crew, etc.

I work for an interactive advertising agency and we're often unable to put our clients' TV commercials online because those specific rights either haven't been negotiated with those parties beforehand or simply aren't available.

Good luck with the project however -- it sounds like it would be useful. Particularly if they were old commercials. I'd sure pay to see the ones I grew up with! (And who knows, the rights may be easier to get as well...)
posted by CMichaelCook at 3:11 PM on January 17, 2006

Any chance you could develop a fair-use argument? The purpose of this database is not mentioned. IANAL
posted by Goofyy at 10:34 PM on January 17, 2006

Unfortunately, the only real way to find out if you have a valid fair use argument is to first get sued. Fair use is a defense to infringement, not an affirmative right.
posted by anathema at 7:49 AM on January 18, 2006

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