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Recording ourselves speaking the text of a 1945 broadcast

Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:58 am
by Henry Crun
Hi all,

I work for a public library. One of my colleagues wants to video a number of us speaking extracts of Richard Dimbleby's 1945 broadcast from Belsen which first went out on the BBC Home Service on 19th April 1945.

No full transcript is available online, only the full broadcast. So my colleague transcribed the broadcast text direct from that full broadcast, and I double-checked it.

The extracts will make up a whole recording of the original, but spoken by different people. No changes have been made to the text.

My question is the inevitable one: can we do this, without seeking permission from the BBC? My colleague's research suggests that the copyright for the transcript would have been held by the BBC, and would have run out 50 years after its first broadcast. Is this true?

We are intending to show these videos in libraries around the Borough on Holocaust Memorial Day. No money will be made from the exercise.


Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:37 pm
by Nick Cooper
It's important to bear in mind that there will been two separate copyrights: one for the actual text of the words broadcast, another for the sound recording itself (correspondents used a compact phonographic disc recorder in the field).

From my understanding of how Dimbleby and other war correspondents worked, the commentary text would have been his own work, and so copyright protected for 70 years after his death, i.e. to the end of 2035. I would think that the BBC are the actual owner of the copyright, as his employer at the time.

The copyright on the actual recording will indeed have expired at the end of 1995.

Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:55 pm
by AndyJ
Just to add to Nick's remarks, with which I agree, what you are proposing to do is 'perform' a literary work which we are fairly sure is in copyright. This requires permission from the copyright owner, which I agree is almost certainly the BBC. Given the nature of this venture and the fact it is part of some commemorative event suggests that obtaining permission should not be difficult. Use this link for your initial inquiry: