Licensing fees for IWM and other British public domain footage

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by ClémentH, Jun 15, 2021.

  1. ClémentH

    ClémentH Member


    I'm a French researcher working on a free youtube documentary honouring a British soldier, killed in action during the liberation of my country. It is self-produced, on a very tight budget (I'm doing everything, including the music), and I am looking for original footage of Operation Epsom to illustrate it.

    The Imperial War Museum has fantastic videos of the battle, and I have contacted them to ask for permission to use them. To my great surprise, even though I will not earn any money with this Youtube video and I believed the footage to be in the public domain, it would cost me hundreds of pounds in licensing fees!!

    The Pathé footage is not much cheaper, and it appears there is no free-to-use British footage anywhere... It is really frustrating as it's much easier and cheaper to use French and American archives, and I see so many IWM videos everywhere on Youtube and social media that I'm sure were never paid for... But although I unfortunately cannot afford the fees, I have already spent months on this video and I don't want to disappoint the soldier's family. Moreover, I think the footage would make the documentary far more interesting and shed more light on the British involvement in the Normandy campaign, which is often overlooked here in France.

    Have you ever been confronted with this kind of issue? Are there any other solutions?

    Thank you for your help!

    Chris C likes this.
  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Welcome aboard, others who know about this issue will hopefully respond. Meantime it is worth reading this thread, even if the theme is copyright the last few posts refer to reproduction of imagery: EU copyright law question
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It's a long shot but contact them again and stress the veteran/remembrance angle. They may rethink the charges for commemorative purposes 'in the spirit of their charter'. Detail how much footage you want and how it fits into the commemoration. And that they will be credited in a positive manner.
  4. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Clement - all I can do is fully sympathise with your predicament. The cost of IWM media licences was so high I could only fund a handful of IWM photographs my book. Extremely disappointing. In fact it was so disappointing I wrote to the IWM’s Chairman of Trustees to complain. The reply was predictably bland and I got nowhere. I do hope you have better luck than I. Your project sounds most interesting. Best wishes.
    ClémentH likes this.
  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I can't comment on licences, but when it came to a personal copy of a video for my own research, I told them that a family member was with the unit depicted and they gave me a copy at a token cost provided I assured them that I would not put it online.

    I think what may concern them is 'their' material 'leaking' and being widely copied without a licence. Their rationale, I would speculate, is that the high charges are a way of limiting and controlling the releases more effectively.

    I do not say this is right.
  6. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Hi Clement,

    Several posts in thread "EU copyright law question" might be of interest to you, including mine (post #15).

    Cheers, Ronald.
  7. ClémentH

    ClémentH Member

    Thank you for your replies and the links!

    Yes it appears they are open for discussion regarding such particular cases, so there's hope! It is still sad that those images are not openly shared like the Americans do, I'm sure it would help a great deal to "promote" (I'm sure it's not the right word but you get the idea) the part the British played in our liberation...
    Chris C likes this.

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