The files contain papers generated through the activities of the BBC copyright section in relation to contributor rights. The files include copyright permissions for both television and radio use dating before 1963. (The official dates for this Registry sequence were for papers created between 1922 and 1962, but Accession Books list files as dating from the 1930s onwards.) Paperwork is held in relation to national, regional and overseas programmes.
These papers are arranged into small clumps for each contributor and refer to those who did not have enough dealings with the copyright section before 1963 to warrant a personal file.
The papers can cover the entire process for clearing rights for the use of radio and television broadcasts.
The papers include internal correspondence between the copyright section and the different programme departments, external correspondence between the copyright section and rights holders, and contracts. Occasionally complete trails of correspondence with external contributors are included for reference for the copyright section, when usually these papers would be filed separately in the RCONT2 - 6 and RCONT8 - 11 series.
There were different types of contracts issued by the copyright section depending on the material the rights were being assigned from. Therefore the papers cover the copyright procedures for gaining rights for scripts, translations, music, the copying of music, stories, choreography and poetry. The rights could be for the use of the whole material, extracts or adaptations.
The requests for copyright permissions came from all kinds of departments including Talks, Drama, Variety, Schools, Children’s Hour and Gramophone Programmes.
On occasion the copyright holder of some works was unknown and so the copyright section would actively trace copyright holders for permission to use works that were already published.
The usual procedure would be for the programme department to issue a request to the programme copyright section with information about the rights holder such as name, address, the material to be used, and broadcast dates (sometimes ‘future use’). The copyright section would then issue a contract to the contributor. The contract would be either rejected or signed and returned to the copyright section. A memo would be sent by the copyright section back to the original department and copied to programme finance to arrange payment of any fees due.