I am producing a 10-part audio documentary series about life in America during WWII. It will be commercially distributed online. I am planning on using quite a bit of archival audio for this series—network news broadcasts, AFRS broadcasts, audio from newsreels and other films, music from V-Discs, etc. I have a pretty good handle on which of these are public domain and which are clearly under copyright (for example, NBC broadcasts, recorded by the network itself). However, I am not at all clear about what entity, if any, with which I should be negotiating rights clearances for CBS and Mutual news broadcasts. As I understand it (and please correct me if I am wrong) all or most of the existing transcriptions of CBS WWII broadcasts were recorded by then CBS-affiliate KIRO in Seattle, which eventually became the source for the Milo Ryan archive at the University of Washington.

So here is the essence of my confusion: if KIRO made these recordings on the sly, for posterity, in the clear knowledge that they were defying CBS policy NOT to make recordings of their broadcasts, and if CBS themselves didn’t copyright their broadcasts, which I don’t believe they did, then the only entity that could possibly have rights to these recordings is KIRO. And KIRO has changed hands several times over the decades, is no longer a CBS affiliate, and is now owned by a subsidiary of the Mormon Church, Bonneville Communications. I have previously seen reference to CBS as the entity that one needed permission to use these WWII clips, but I have also seen reference, on the University of Washington website to contact “KIRO-CBS” for permission, and I don’t know how to parse that. Did they mean KIRO, which was once a CBS affiliate, or CBS, or both.

So that’s part one of my confusion.

Part two has to do with Mutual radio broadcasts from WWII. They were all (or mostly) recorded by WOR, from what I understand, which as the flagship Mutual station at the time. Both WOR and Mutual have gone through a dizzying number of owners and affiliations over the decades, so I’m not at all sure if I should be talking to the current owners of WOR, or the current owners of Mutual, both, or neither.

Any suggestions to either of these queries would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

All the best,

Dan Gediman
Executive Producer
The Home Front: Life in America During WWII

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