Clumsy Copyright Censorship
"Where'd it go? Where'd it go?The removal of material from a work because copyright lawyers complained, done in a totally non-seamless fashion. Rather than replacing the disallowed material with something respectable, what turns up instead is obvious blank space or Lampshade Hanging on why it was removed. This might be anything like airbrushing a character Exiled from Continuity out of a comic book panel, replacing a copyrighted illustration with obvious blank space, or overdubbing formerly licensed background music at the cost of losing the dialogue it accompanied. This frequently happens with DVD releases of relatively old shows, often in the form of Home Version Soundtrack Replacement. Back then, the makers of the show didn't really anticipate needing copyright insurance for widespread home video distribution, since that market didn't really explode until the DVD era. Entire episodes being removed falls under Keep Circulating the Tapes. Sometimes occurs because Disney Owns This Trope. See also Writing Around Trademarks. To avoid this altogether but still try to keep real world products in-universe, see Bland-Name Product
That other song is gone!"
That other song is gone!"
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Anime and Manga
- The Japanese audio track on the U.S. release of Kodomo no Omocha simply cuts out at one point in the first episode because the record label for the band Tokio wouldn't allow their music to be used.
- This also led to the Season 1 theme being replaced with the season 2 theme, creating spoilers galore. Same thing happened to The Skull Man.
- One episode of Maison Ikkoku had different OP/ED, with a song by Gilbert O'Sullivan, used without permission. DVD release was done silently for that OP / ED.
- It may not have been used at all on the American version.
- Code Geass was sponsored by Pizza Hut in Japan. All the logos had to be cut out for the American release.
- Numerous real-world logos were digitally removed from the US release of Lupin III (Red Jacket).
- Dr. Slump had numerous panels featuring Ultraman or Ultra Seven hastily re-touched to disguise just who the characters really were. Oddly enough, the Penguin Village cop who perpetually wears the Stormtrooper helmet, and the panel of Senbei and Arale dressed as C-3PO and R2-D2, the panel of Senbei dressed as Travis Bickle, and the chapter with the very obvious story-long parody of Spock, all apperarances/mentions of Godzilla or Gamera, and the entire supporting character of "Suppaman" were left untouched.
- Lucky Star often bleeps out references to other anime series, such as the time when Konata was revealed to be able to name all the Pokémon, and when she started talking about Gundam. Though the clumsiness might be part of the point; during Konata and her father's conversation about Gundam, they mention the names of several series, each of which is represented by a piece of official art that's been digitally blurred but is still immediately recognizable.
- Hayate the Combat Butler does the same thing, and since it happens all the time it's much more noticable.
- Archie Comics has ended up altering two covers to their Sonic the Hedgehog series - issue 8, which had Marvel Comics heroes fighting in a cloud of dust, and Sonic Super Special #7, which not only had the Image Comics heroes on it, but two of Ken Penders' creations on it - during various reproductions, such as cover scans on Sonic Mega Collection
- The Hulk comic book collection Regression includes issue 296, which had a guest appearance by Rom, a character based on a Parker Brothers toy. Since Marvel no longer has the rights to Rom, the pages on which he appears aren't reprinted, and instead there's a text summary which refers only to a "heroic alien cyborg".
- IDW's original reprints of the Marvel Comics run of Transformers suffered from this big-time. Because of some references the Marvel universe (Spider-Man himself guest stars in one issue) the company could not reprint certain issues of the original series and instead were forced to use short summaries of the cut issues instead. This especially hit hard with the recurring character Circuit Breaker who also appeared in Marvel's UK books: because of this, any issue that featured her was cut. Considering she played a huge role in the final arc of the book, lord knows how IDW would have been able to handle collecting that. Thankfully, this no longer applies, and IDW has been able to reprint the older comics completely intact now.
- The issue wasn't resolved in time to keep the Regeneration One special that reprinted the final five Marvel issues from being tweaked to conceal or remove Circuit Breaker's appearances. She appears in a flashback panel in the Regeneration One series proper, but from such a distance that she only appears as a glowing, flying female form, and G.B. Blackrock doesn't mention her by name, only mentioning her as a "former employee".
- The Teen Titan named "Protector" owes his existence to this trope. In the 80s, the Teen Titans creators Wolfman and Perez created a series of anti-drug PSA comics, and discovered at the last minute that (since the comics were appearing in a weird licensed context), they couldn't use Robin (who was licensed out elsewhere). So, they drew over Robin wherever he appeared as a new character, the Protector. This leads to a bad case of Remember the New Guy, since he's just there, without introduction, and acts like he's in charge (as Robin was).
- Many earlier stories of Comic Book/Rat-Man had the main character meeting various Marvel heroes. Since the bonds between Panini (the Italian owner of Marvel comic rights, and Rat-Man's publisher too) and Marvel became looser in the years, the recent reprints of these stories have been altered turning the various heroes into expies. More in detail:
- Spiderman became "The Human Spider", and the web pattern on his suit was altered.
- Victor Von Doom's cape lacks the classic golden buttons, and his mask now looks like a japanese Oni's face (similar to the one Guilty wears)
- The Punisher is now "The Polisher" and the skull insignia on his suit is replaced with a smiley face.
- Wolverine, now "Hunter", haves extendable fingernails instead of his classic claws.
- The big "A" on Captain America's mask is now a star, and his name is now "American Star".
- Nick Fury is now "Furio", with a blatant white space left after his name showing that a longer name was here before.
- Game designer James Ernest developed a game in which players are Diabolical Masterminds competing to construct the most stylish act of Bond Villain Stupidity. It was originally released under the title Before I Kill You, Mister Bond. Following a cease and desist order from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer over the use of Bond's name, the current edition is titled James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game.
- The official product description even includes the line, "We’d tell you what it was once called, but we’d rather not get another letter."
- Mocked in the Billy Wilder film One, Two, Three, revolving around Jimmy Cagney as a Coca-Cola exec in West Berlin just before the rise of the Wall. Joan Crawford, at the time a major stockholder of Pepsi, was enraged by what she saw as blatant product placement, and demanded that Wilder use Pepsi in the film. He did — at the very end. Cagney's character puts a nickel (or at least a five-pfennig piece) into a Coke machine... and gets a bottle of Pepsi. He makes a disgusted mugging face at the camera as the movie ends.
- In Grease, there's a scene that takes place in a diner with a giant Coca-Cola sign in the background. Or, rather, a giant blur that was supposed to be a Coca-Cola sign before Pepsi, one of the film's chief sponsors, protested the Product Placement.
- In Wayne's World, there's a gag that takes place in a musical instrument store in which Wayne attempts to play "Stairway to Heaven" on guitar, only to find out he's broken one of the store's rules in doing so. Or at least that's what he played in the original theatrical release. On home video releases, the riff is overdubbed with a generic one, though the sign with the rule remains unchanged.
- The joke, which refers to the preponderance of Wayne-generation novice guitarists who practiced by playing Stairway to Heaven to the stereo ad nauseum, is lost on the international release version. Still, plenty of VHS copies of the U.S. version are still about.
- The broadcast versions of Demolition Man remove all references to Taco Bell. Which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't a pretty huge joke in the movie with a full scene there.
- Some broadcast versions of Inspector Gadget cut out the shot of the Yahoo! billboard falling, as well as cutting the site's name out of the hero's next line.
- The Big Fix includes a lovely scene with Richard Dreyfuss preparing for a date, with Leon Redbone's "I Wanna Be Seduced" as the BGM. Sadly, for the VHS release the song had to be replaced with generic instrumental music. Fans assiduously record the movie every time it shows up on TCM, while holding out hope for a DVD release.
- Freddy Got Fingered was originally going to have a brief Apocalypse Now parody scene, but they couldn't get the rights to "The End" by The Doors, and since it needed that song to work, the scene was cut. The sequence was put on the DVD as a Deleted Scene: Since they still couldn't get the rights, the audio track is Tom Green explaining the situation and recommending that the viewer turn the volume down and cue up "The End" themselves.
- Phantom of the Paradise is a rather unfortunate case. Antagonist Swan's record label, Swan Song, was featured in many scenes, including long shots and panning shots. At about the same time they were filming, Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant started a real record label with the name, and beat Phantom by a couple months with their first album release. Grant threatened to block release of the film, so dePalma and his editor very poorly covered up the offending words with the new label name, Death Records. Even worse, several long take scenes with too much movement were reedited so as to not show the original name, wasting the long single take shots. That name was everywhere. Luckily, the original takes survive in the hands of a fan, though who knows if they'll ever be used in a future release.
- The broadcast version of Little Nicky, which is particularly jarring because of the prominent Product Placement.
Nicky: Popeye's chicken is fuckin' awesome!to...Nicky: Chicken is kickin'.
- The "Coke into Pepsi" gag is similarly butchered.
- On the Blu-Ray of Captain America: The First Avenger, there's an extended version of the final scene, where Cap meets Nick Fury on Times Square. One of the monitors in the background is blurred, but the peculiar color scheme shows it's somewhat related to The Simpsons (on the scene as featured in the film, it is replaced with what appears to be an ad for the US Military).
- Where The Buffalo Roam had its music infamously replaced with generic '80s music on most home video releases. The only known exception is the original VHS and Betamax release. The '80s music makes this a definite example, considering that Anachronism Stew resulted (the film takes place in the late '60s/early '70s).
- The Mystery of Mamo has, in its original theatrical release, a short shot of Lupin hanging out with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other DC superheroes. For obvious reasons, this would have been unacceptible to Time-Warner once the movie was released here in the US by Geneon, and so it was cut, even though it caused a noticeable break in a scene.
- Because of the less visual nature of literature, this is far less common than in more visual media. However, it is not rare to see quotes from music or poems show up as epigraphs in one edition of a book but then be missing on the reprints, or in some cases, showing up in later reprints because the book became a success and so there was enough money to get permission or a license.
- In Le Ton beau de Marot, a book by Douglas Hofstadter, a passage from The Catcher in the Rye is replaced by a message from the author complaining that Salinger is too strict about copyright, and that Hofstadter had to scramble to maintain something the size of the quote to avoid throwing off the typesetting.
Live Action TV
- The early releases of the Northern Exposure DVDs replaced soundtrack music when rights could not be secured for the songs used in the original broadcasts.
- The Odd Couple DVDs have quite a few scenes and jokes cut out due to the use of copyrighted music.
- In the case of WKRP in Cincinnati, the entire draw of the show was its use of licensed music. With no licensed songs at all, the show lost a lot of its punch. Few people bought the first DVD releases because they could get a more complete show on a bootleg. This naturally resulted in the DVD sales being so low that no further seasons were released to DVD, until Shout! Factory released a complete series set with the music restored.
- 21 Jump Street suffers from this. While the licensed music wasn't the whole draw of the show, it was an important part of the atmosphere, and lyrics were often used to communicate plot, which makes chunks of some DVD episodes make very little sense now that they're backed by nothing but elevator music. The DVDs still sold enough to finish the show, possibly because there don't seem to be many bootlegs in circulation...
- A frequent occurrence on MythBusters for both copyright and safety reasons. They lampshade the heck out of this.
- "Blur is very dangerous; you don't want to mix blur with blur!"
- Averted when testing Diet Coke and Mentos, both mentioned by name, and any other myths that specifically need a certain type of product for it to work.
- Played straight with "a certain car" that allegedly drives better backwards.
- The Re Cut spin-off Head Rush is full of this. Mostly whatever companies, organizations, or products that they were able to mention on MythBusters for some reason are very obviously censored here. The most Egregious cases are when one of the hosts of the original show is talking about someone and they have to bleep out the name, so it ends up sounding like "we talked to *BEEP* to assist us in this test."
- On television, throughout the late 1980s and most of the 1990s, the opening theme to Married... with Children has always been "Love and Marriage" by Frank Sinatra. However, on DVD, Sony Pictures changed the song to something similar, but not the same, with no lyrics. The original song can still be found on reruns, and was later restored on Mill Creek Entertainment's DVD re-releases.
- One episode of Operation Repo had a scene bleeped out because they did not want to pay to license the song "Happy Birthday to You"
- Various episodes of the original Doctor Who have suffered this on DVD.
- The BBC did their best to avert it with "Revelation of the Daleks": This was one of the last serials to be released on video because of the time it took to secure the rights to the music. Because the music is so integral to the plot and often featured characters talking over the top of it, it could not easily be replaced. Ultimately the only track the BBC could not secure the rights to was Jimi Hendrix's "Fire". This track had to be carefully digitally excised and replaced without losing the dialogue occurring over the top of it.
- One of the first scenes of the early Doctor Who serial "The Chase" has the Doctor and his companions watching footage of The Beatles on the newly-acquired Time-Space Visualizer. The BBC will be releasing this serial on DVD in 2010, but has announced that outside of Region 2, the original footage will be replaced, as the BBC's license to use the footage does not extend outside the UK.
- The footage only still exists because it was used in that episode. It's the only surviving footage of The Beatles playing on Top of the Pops.
- "The Evil of the Daleks" had the Beatles' "Paperback Writer" playing in a bar. On the CD release (the story has been lost, but the soundtrack survives), the whole scene was deleted. (Luckily, it's not crucial; the plot probably still makes sense without it.) The scenes were deleted on the cassette version of the story. The DVD release just replaced the Beatles music with a more generic tune, but otherwise left the scenes intact.
- The "Real Monsters vs. Commercial Mascots" episode of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, in which all the contestants wore wacky costumes, was butchered for the Season Two DVD release because some of the costumes were of copyrighted characters like Ultraman: To drop all the shots of people in the offending costumes meant that three of the games were trimmed, the concluding "Impassible Stones of Mount McKidney" game was completely dropped, and graphics were used to cover up much of the closing "Painful Eliminations of the Day" segment. They didn't even run the end credits. The episode ran less than ten minutes long as a result (as opposed to twenty (Which is also part of the reason the episode is not available for download via iTunes). Oddly, the uncut episode remained in the rerun rotation on Spike TV.
- Blood Over Water had "Sleet" dubbed in poorly when Aaron talks about Sleet Mountain, to avoid saying "Ice Mountain" like in the original cut. Chris' laptop screen also replaces an Ice Mountain wallpaper with a Sleet Mountain one.
- When Pimp My Ride moved to Speed TV, they began muting any mention of MTV - which leaves big holes in the dialogue, since the people tend to draw "MTV" out.
- Same thing for MTV's Cribs in syndication, where all the music was replaced with dull atmosphere music and all mentions of MTV were edited out.
- The State was long thought unreleasable due to its extensive used of licensed music. It eventually did come out - with all of the music clumsily removed. One of the deleted scenes (at a dance) is utterly silent (with prior text disclaimer) because the song is a such a large part of the scene they had to cut out all of the sound in it. It's a just a big long deleted scene with no sound watching people dance and move their mouths.
- Because of the BBC's status as a public network, Top Gear is able to make extensive use of copyrighted music in its original airings. These are often removed in DVD releases and overseas broadcasts (where the rights are not as easy to secure).
- Especially annoying in the American (or at least, iTunes) version of the Vietnam Special, where Clarkson says "cue the music", meaning the theme song from The A-Team (which the show is famous for using in the UK)...and we then hear a completely different song. Of course, Clarkson could have meant different music - after all, he only said "the music" -until James May starts humming the A-Team song over the new soundtrack.
- ITV's Police, Camera, Action! did this to the 1996 episode "Road to Nowhere" - end music replaced by generic orchestra music, 2000 episode Getting Their Man (with Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" replaced by a cover version of Joe Loss's the Stripper).
- Many fans were worried that the 2010 reairing of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers would change the music for this reason, particularly the iconic theme song, which Disney hadn't gotten the rights to for Adam's reappearance in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, using generic rock for his theme when all the other reappearing Rangers got their own shows' theme songs. Thankfully, it turned out that Disney was actually contractually obligated to keep all the original music in the re-releases, so this was averted in the end.
- For the music, anyway - there are several points where company logos are blurred over (such as the names on the weights and the Nike swoosh on an extra's shoes in "A Pressing Engagement").
- Later reruns of Lizzie McGuire (both on WGN and the 2010 Disney Channel reairings) had their songs replaced with generic background music for some reason...
- The Season One DVD set for Profiler is missing Episode 4. Why? Because the episode had the song "Every Breath You Take."
- The first four sets of Quantum Leap DVDs were stripped of all licensed music not explicitly mentioned in dialogue, even when it left characters dancing the Twist, shouting "TEQUILA!" in unison, and mouthing the words to "Louie Louie" for no apparent reason. Worse still, one of the most powerful scenes was utterly destroyed by the replacement of Ray Charles with listless muzak. After a vociferous outcry, the final season set was spared from any music cuts.
- One episode of Spooks was temporarily pulled after its preview broadcast because the Apple logos on the back of the spies' computers were clearly visible and advertising of any kind is not allowed on The BBC. People complained. In the end, it wasn't shown in its primetime slot until the logos had been airbrushed out.
- The 1960s-retro Crime Story suffered in syndication when music rights issues replaced mood-setting period music with ersatz tunes.
- Even Star Trek TOS had this problem. Non-original copyrighted music was used exactly once ("Goodnight, Sweetheart" in "The City on the Edge of Forever"), and was replaced with a sound-alike on the VHS releases. The rights were obtained for the DVD releases.
- Frequent in reruns of SCTV because the producers didn't bother to clear rights for any of the music they used. Sketches with unusable songs were either cut or edited into incomprehensibility, such as "Cooking with Prickley", a large portion of which is simply fast-forwarded through Edith's singing.
- The producers of both My So-Called Life and Saturday Night Live were able to procure the rights to Haddaway's "What is Love" for their future airings and DVD releases. However, whenever a fan uploads the Delia-Rickie dance or a sketch featuring the Roxbury guys (Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan as two club-hopping Leisure Suit Larries, often with a third member played by an episode host or cameo, such as Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, Martin Short, and Sylvester Stallone) onto YouTube, it's usually muted, as Sony Music owns Haddaway's catalog and doesn't have a release with YouTube (and, much like the ubiquitous Warner Music Group, they are very vigilant in their policing of their music).
- The Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Prom Queen" originally had "In The Still of the Night" by The Five Satins played during the final scene, but it was removed in the DVD release, obviously due to copyright issues. In The Tale of C7 note , the C7 tune was originally "Save The Last Dance for Me", but it too was replaced with generic music on the DVD.
- The first few seasons(1983-1988) of Newton's Apple used Kraftwerk's "Ruckzuck" as their theme tune, and a remixed version was used from 1989 to 1994, but the video releases replaced it with a Suspiciously Similar Song. For its last four seasons, the show switched to completely original theme music.
- In Living Color!'s DVD releases have a lot of sketches either edited to remove song references or music video parodies (often serving as the show's cold opening) removed.
- All That airs on The '90s Are All That without the musical guest performances. Since this necessitates the additional removal of sketches introducing the guest, and the cast saying goodbye onstage after the song, several episodes end abruptly.
- The first DVD releases of Lost in Austen had to cut the part where Amanda sings "Downtown" for the Bingleys and Darcy because the rights hadn't been acquired. The joke that Bingley makes about "going downtown" immediately after made no sense without the song. Later releases reinstated the song.
- The biggest Brazilian TV station, Globo, refuses to say the sponsor in either team names (when most basketball and volleyball teams are [city]/[sponsor] - in extreme cases, [sponsor]/[another sponsor]) or stadia (but only Brazilian ones, at least).
- Sometimes, they make ridiculous things to avoid even SHOWING the sponsors; in some interviews, when the player is using a cap or is in front of a billboard, they make an EXTREME close-up, sometimes showing only the player's face, but CUTTING THE TOP OF HIS/HER HEAD!
- They also avoid at a maximum to mention any non-sponsor brand. The F1 team Red Bull Racing is always referred as RBR. They even get ridiculous at times; in Globo, they never mention Twitter, they mention "the micro-blog".
- In honor of its 30th syndicated season in 2012-13, Wheel of Fortune showed historical clips at the top of the show. Most of these were awkwardly edited to remove most of the previous musical cues (Toss-Up Think Music, theme song, and even the short fanfare for solving a puzzle), either by dubbing it over with its counterpart or Jump Cutting. This can be pretty jarring to hear the current music beds dubbed into a 1980s clip, where they are obviously mismatched. Oddly, they didn't dub over any instances of the 1994-1997 fanfare for solving a puzzlenote , or the pre-1983 Theme Tune "Big Wheels".
- One of the most egregious was a mid-1980s clip of then-announcer Jack Clark describing a prize. They had to find a way to digitally scrub out the prize bed without also wiping out Jack's voice.
- Even more strangely, the 25th season also had classic clips used as bumpers — but in those cases, the original music was completely intact.
- The DVD release of Alf uses the syndicated versions, which cuts nearly all music from the series. In the Season 1 episode "Wild Thing", an entire scene that includes the Frank Sinatra song "That's Why That Lady is a Tramp" is removed, causing the episode to not make any sense at all.
- Averted in the Season 1 episode "Looking For Lucky", where Alf singing "Old Time Rock n Roll" by Bob Seger, using a cucumber as microphone, was not removed.
- The They Might Be Giants song "AKA Driver" is a strong example. The original title, "NyQuil Driver", was blocked legally. They Might Be Giants then refused to put the lyrics to the song in the liner notes. It's the only song on that album that doesn't include the lyrics. Excluding covers, it's the only album track on any of their albums that doesn't include the lyrics.
- A song by British progressive rock band Oceansize was originally titled "Commemorative 9/11 T-shirt" after seeing the very things being sold in New York. After the band was told that this would not pass censorship, the song was renamed "Commemorative _____ T-shirt".
- The text to Charles Ives's song "Tarrant Moss" was from Rudyard Kipling. When it was published as #72 of his 114 Songs, only the first four words ("I closed and drew") appeared under the vocal line, with a footnote declaring, "Permission to use this verse had not been obtained from Mr. Kipling at the time of going to press." Ives later supplied his own text, which was a veiled Take That to William Randolph Hearst.
- The Kabalas' Wall Martt Polkaa.
- "Farewell to John Denver" (a very brief parody of "Annie's Song") was removed from Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album and replaced with Terry Jones saying that the item had been omitted for legal reasons.
- The Mountain Goats' "Jenny" mentions a Kawasaki - the official lyrics have the line as "on a new [motorcycle]".
- The title of Dada's "Dizz-Knee Land": You can probably guess what the song was originally going to be called.
- 1987 (What The Fuck Is Going On?) by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu was pulled from the market due to having a massive amount of unauthorized samples. In response, the band released 1987 (The JAMs 45 Edits), which consisted of all of the original material from the album with all of the samples removed. This left astoundingly barren songs and several large gaps of silence, including a three-minute pause where samples from Top of the Pops were in the original. The liner notes cited what samples would have been there, and gave instructions on how to replicate the original version of the album themselves. This edited version of the album had such a small amount of actual music on it that it was formally classified as a 12 inch single.
- Comedian/singer Tim Wilson recorded a song about a bouncer at a Chuck E. Cheese's. To get the song on an album, he had to name it "Chucky Cheese H*ll" and put a warning on the album that the song was not approved by Chuck E. Cheese's.
- A variation of this happened to Mr. Bungle on their first, self-titled album. The lead song was to be called Travolta after a line in the song, but Warner Bros. music made them change it at the last minute (which they did somewhat acidically, "Quote Unquote" after a line of legalese jargon the band was given on the situation).
- Sonic Youth's Sister featured photo collage artwork on the front and back covers. Two of the images used had to be censored with large black bars for copyright reasons - one was an image of a little girl in the upper left hand corner◊ of the front cover, the other was a photo of Disney's Magic Kingdom on the upper left hand corner of the back cover. A reissue of the album restores the Magic Kingdom picture on the back, sort of - most of what would make it recognizable is obscured by a conveniently placed barcode.
- Goldfinger's cover of "99 Red Balloons" by Nena omitted the "Captain Kirk" verse, replacing it with the fourth verse of "99 Luftballons", which was the basis for the English third verse, so the same verse just gets repeated in German.
- Melvins' Lysol had to be changed to a Self-Titled Album at the last minute for reasons that should be readily apparent. The album artwork is where the trope comes in: to spare the expense of having to destroy existing copies and redesign the cover, their record label just put black tape over the album name on the front, and inked over the album name on the side. On early editions, the tape and ink were easily removed, and fans took to doing so with their own copies - later printings made this harder to do without damaging the cover. Even on current copies, the cover has a distinct area of blank space where a title clearly should be.
- Dune's planned 2000 comeback album, Reunion, was completely blocked from release due to a copyright lawsuit over just one song, "Heaven", which sounded a bit too similar to A7's "Piece of Heaven". You wonder why they didn't just remove the offending song.
- Sufjan Stevens' album Illinois (aka Come On, Feel the Illinoise!) initially had cover artwork with Superman flying through the sky in the background. Shortly after releasing the album, the record label realized they never got permission from DC Comics to use Superman's likeness. To prevent a lawsuit, they took every copy that hadn't been sold yet and slapped a sticker of three balloons over the Man of Steel. Later reprintings of Illinois were less clumsy, and edited the cover art itself to replace Supes with either empty sky or the three balloons.
- Up until recently in any WWE footage before their name change, any time the initials "WWF" were mentioned, the audio suddenly went dead just around the letter "F"; in the same vein, any time the WWF's Attitude Era "scratch" logo was shown on screen, it was covered by Pixellation (from on-screen graphic logos down to the WWF patch on referee's shirts), and the on-screen "bug" of the logo was covered up by a black-bordered version of the current WWE logo. Show titles and lower-thirds were also edited. As of this writing, however, it seems that WWE has managed to regain the rights to show their older WWF footage with the logo and initials intact. (A settlement was apparently reached with the World Wide Fund for Nature, the charity which instigated WWE's name change.)
- Due to a weird legal grey area in the United Kingdom, older WWE events are allowed to be released in their original uncut format as "Tagged Classics"; this means that the audio and video are both uncut and uncensored, and are presented in their original condition. Unfortunately, these releases are region-locked (and in PAL format), but that can often be worked around (one way or another).
- The old WWF logo got a literal clumsy censorship treatment during the Old School Raw special, nevertheless. The title cards show the untouched WWF splash screen, not counting the crossed out "World Wrestling Federation" title, supported by the promotion's current name written below. The logo remains unchanged even during the show, as the older WWF logos were not affected by the World Wide Fund for Nature's litigation.
- Recent version's however, use a brand new version of "Reckonized Symbol of Excellence" signature in with the altered WWE "Old School" logo (the modern "WW" in the style of the 1980's logos that debuted on a John Cena t-shirt) in place of the original with the current full "World Wrestling Entertainment" name below and using the original music and voiceover.
- In addition to their own extensive video library, WWE also owns the rights to the ECW video library. ECW often used popular music for its wrestlers' themes, so naturally, these songs are dubbed over with generic tracks (often a Suspiciously Similar Song; sometimes, when said wrestler has had a WWE or WCW tenure, with their theme from those promotions) whenever WWE releases any video from ECW. This hurts some wrestlers more than others (New Jack and The Sandman, especially).
- WWE does this for their video library, which spans many, many older promotions (including WCW): when they don't want to pay for the rights to a theme, they either use an alternate theme or cut out the offending entrance. This censorship even applies to other audio: Michael Buffer did a fair amount of ring announcing in WCW, and this is usually dubbed over (or cut out) to avoid paying royalties; a similar case occurs often with Jesse Ventura's WWF commentary.
- One of the worst examples of this was Sandman's entrance during the ECW One Night Stand reunion Pay-Per-View. Sandman used Metallica's "Enter Sandman" as his entrance theme, which WWE elected not to pick up the rights for when they made the DVD. Instead, they edited out the song, the crowd singing along to the song, and Mick Foley commenting on the crowd singing along to the song.
- The Undertaker gets it just as bad in DVD releases, with Kid Rock's "American Badass" and Limp Bizkit's "Rollin'" being replaced by this and this respectively.
- The YouTube version of Triple H's WrestleMania entrance edits out Metallica's "For Who The Bell Tolls".
- The Now Show often features short excerpts of copyrighted music (e.g., a burst of "I Predict a Riot" in place of the French national anthem) which have to be removed from the podcast version. Usually lampshaded in the replacing segments: "You are now not hearing the song "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. Frankly, you should count yourself lucky."
- Internet radio station Soma FM had to change the logo of its Underground 80s channel due to trademark infringement. The logo in question was a parody of the London Underground logo, which is trademarked in the US for some reason. The station is based in San Francisco. A proposed new logo tries to skirt it by changing the circle (which is explicitly stated in the trademark) to a rounded square, though for now the logo is just "Underground Eighties" in all lowercase letters and a light green font.
- BattleTech contains a particularly infamous example; FASA got permission to use about 20 mecha designs from the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross, only for Harmony Gold, the creators of the adaptation Robotech, to threaten a lawsuit. As a result, though the designs could be statted out, they could never be depicted visually (either as artwork or models), leading to the Fan Nickname "The Unseen". Eventually a few were redesigned enough that they could be brought back and were dubbed "The Reseen".
- The first printing of the 1e Dungeons & Dragons reference book Deities and Demigods included game statistics for 17 pantheons, including the Cthulhu and Melnibonéan mythoi. TSR thought the Cthulhu mythos was public domain and had received permission from Michael Moorcock to include his characters; however, it turned out the rival company Chaosium owned the Tabletop RPG rights to both of them. To avoid a lawsuit, TSR added a credit for the other company to the second printing, but starting with the third printing they left out the offending sections altogether. Nevertheless, the Chaosium credit (and a blurb on the back cover incorrectly indicating the book still contained data on 17 pantheons) remained in the third and some of the fourth printings.
- Originally, the 1989 Sega Genesis game The Revenge of Shinobi featured doppelgangers of Rambo, The Terminator (who turns green à la The Incredible Hulk), Godzilla, and Spider-Man (who turns into Batman) as boss villains. None of these were licensed in the slightest. Rereleases of the game gradually replaced the bosses with often bizarre sprites (and Batman into Devilman)... with the exception of Spider-Man, who was later recolored into the genuine character (and fleeing instead of morphing into the Devilman knockoff) under license from Marvel because Sega gained the Spidey game rights at the time of the rerelases (See Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin). Its latest release on the Virtual Console recolored the Spider-Man boss pink (Activision held — and as of this writing, still holds — the Spider-Man license by the time the Virtual Console surfaced.).
- The Game Boy Advance version of Spy Hunter omits the Peter Gunn theme altogether, so you play the game with no music.
- Likewise, in the GBA port of Frogger, the well-known songs are changed.
- In the remake of Space Quest 1, ZZ Top was removed (or at least Dummied Out) due to a lawsuit from the band. Likewise, in IV, Radio Shock had its name changed to Hz So Good in later versions.
- In Leisure Suit Larry 5, Dr. Phil Hopian was originally named Lyccus Von Pelt; this apparently got changed due to the similarity with the name of a certain Peanuts character.
- Metal Gear:
- Due to fear of a lawsuit over its blatant similarity with Sviridov's "The Winter Road", the iconic Metal Gear Solid theme was omitted from later games in the series.
- In the mobile phone, the Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and Virtual Console rereleases of the first two Metal Gear games, many of the boss names were changed due to possible copyright issues: Arnold=>Bloody Brad, Coward Duck=>Dirty Duck, Black Collar=> Black Ninja, Ultrabox=>Four Horsemen, Night Sight=>Night Fright, etc.
- In the Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Konami got licensing deals with a number of snack food companies and they appear as a form of usable product placement (generally, brand name food items are used as an improved version of generic food items). In other territories, they didn't have the same deals, so the Doritos, Mountain Dew and curry brands are replaced by things like "T. Chips", "Lemon-Lime Soda", and "Future Curry".
- Later versions of Pengo replaced Gershon Kingsley's "Popcorn" with an original tune.
- The Wii Virtual Console re-release of Tecmo Bowl simply blanked out all player names, leaving only their numbers behind.
- Among the characters included in the Japanese version of Street Fighter II are a dictator named Vega, a guy with a claw on his hand named Balrog, and a boxer named Mike Bison, a clear reference to actual boxer Mike Tyson. In the United States version, they changed it around by making M. Bison the dictator, Vega the guy with the claw, and Balrog as the boxer.
- All modern-day re-releases of Crazy Taxi renamed licensed eateries. For example, KFC was renamed to FCS (Fried Chicken Shack), and Pizza Hut is simply a "Pizza place". Not only were the names of the eateries changed, but the soundtracks were completely replaced as well, so no more Offspring or Bad Religion for you.
- On the PSP version of PaRappa the Rapper, P.J. Berri and Katy Kat ordering chocolate frosties in the intro have the "frosty" part silenced, most likely due to the Wendy's company not approving of Sony mentioning their frosties without permission.
- The Virtual Console rerelease of the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden changed the second boss's theme, due to it being too similar to Black Sabbath's "Iron Man".
- Originally, Sonic Spinball had the title screen themes of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for its title screen music until the composer was informed that he did not have the rights to compose the song. So a new title screen theme had to be composed last-minute. The very first copies of Sonic Spinball retain the original title screen theme whilst all other copies are the edited version.
- Halo 2 Anniversary replaced the licensed songs by Breaking Benjamin and Incubus with original music.
- New York City Bus Simulator is full of lazy attempts to bypass copyright, most of which are shown in [[Web Video/Vinesauce Vinesauce's Vinny's]] stream of it. Highlights include: "King King" instead of Burger King, "Dad & Dad" instead of Dave & Buster's, "Bercedes Men" instead of Mercedes-Benz, "Dudna Aeade" instead of Duane Reade, and a mirrored version of Champs Sports' logo.
- In the DVD releases of The Angry Video Game Nerd episodes, the licensed material is removed with the purpose of not being sued by the rights of the original material. By that, for example, The Wizard review had to be removed from the Super Mario Bros. 3 + The Wizard review. In the Rocky episode, the licensed music had to be removed and replaced with a Suspiciously Similar Song version of "Gonna Fly Now", plus the instance of the appearance of clips from the Rocky movies also had to be removed, between others.
- While on the subject of the AVGN, the Angry Video Game Nerd movie involves the Nerd going on a quest to review "E.T." on the Atari 2600. Obviously, they can't use the exact title "E.T.", so the game is constantly spelled as "EEE TEE", and the video game graphic shows E.T. with a mustache.
- This has even happened to Animutations. That infamous Peter Pan cosplayer that shows up in some of them has actually filed DMCA complaints about unauthorized use of his picture, and thus the YouTube version of Dwedit's "JamezBond" replaces his picture with a silhouette filled with text lampshading the situation (seen above).
- Parodied in the Homestar Runner cartoon "A Decemberween Mackerel." Homestar and Marzipan are singing the "O Decemberween" carol from an earlier 'toon, except the line "Coach Z's been drinking Listerine" is replaced with "Coach Z's been drinking nonspecific-mouthwash-rine". Then a lawyer sticks a document into the frame and tells Homestar to sign it.
- Parodied in the Friendship is Witchcraft episode "Lunar Slander", where all references to apples or the word "apple" is censored because they are "copyrighted" by Dole. It gets overly ridiculous, given that one of the main characters has "apple" in her name.
- During late-season 3 of NextG Poop, Matt de Rojas started to notice Warner Music Group was forcing YouTube to mute any episode of the series that used The Rembrandts' "I'll Be There for You" as an opening theme. To prevent this (and YouTube later would unmute the episodes), any episode made in 2009 featured the Plain White T's' "Take Me Away" instead. However, anything else in the intro aside from the song remained unchanged, and as a result certain sections of the intro which synced to parts of the original song (there was one part that synced to the clapping section of the first verse of "I'll Be There for You") look sloppy and a little rushed.
- All of Prince's songs and videos are banned from YouTube.
- A How It Should Have Ended spoof of Disney's Frozen originally had a cover of "Let it Go", but Disney made HISHE change the lyrics, as quoted above.
- The print version of Looking for Group had a page missing... because a character was singing a Queen song on it.
- Sluggy Freelance, in a similar situation, took the less extreme route of just removing the copyrighted lyrics from the page in the "Fire and Rain" storyline. The printed edition of the book included some lyrics, including those that hadn't appeared in the strip (the lyric-yoinking began before the plot finished), but it was significantly reduced to just the most relevant lyrics of each song.
- Penny Arcade had a legal run-in with American Greetings over a parody they made of Strawberry Shortcake (and American McGee's Alice—it imagined the former in the style of the latter). The strip was removed from the archive and replaced with a black strip with white text explaining the situation, and giving out the email address of American Greetings' legal counsel. This being Penny Arcade, they also followed up with a Take That titled "Read It Before They Take Legal Action". As they also encouraged their fans to forward the original strip to everyone they could, it is exceedingly easy to find the parody online anyway.
- Parodied in Comment on a Postcard, here.
- In the print version of MegaTokyo, anything in the Shirt Guy Dom comics that was taken directly from another source are covered by a censor bar, with notes on top explaining what it was.
- Lampshaded in Clerks: The Animated Series: Randal wanted to compare the episode's situation to "Outbreak" but, because the show didn't get Dustin Hoffman's permission to use his name or likeness, the narrator announced that all references would be replaced by Al Pacino. It looks like a silly joke, but the DVD Commentary explains that this was actually necessary to get it through legal.
Randal: "This is just like that (in a different voice) Al Pacino (regular voice) movie!"
- The original runs of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, and Captain N: The Game Master included covers of popular songs during action sequences. While the songs are retained on some early VHS releases of Super Show and one DVD of Adventures, reruns and later home video release replace them with instrumentals of original songs.
- A particularly egregious example involves an episode of Super Mario Bros. 3 with Milli Vanilli as guest stars. Their, erm, "performance" in the episode is dubbed over — with an instrumental piece. The original version of the episode has never been seen since its original airdate, so it's obviously not on DVD.
- After MTV announced that Daria would come to DVD in 2010, fans expected that most, if not all, of the licensed music would be replaced, since previous releases of the movies had all the music altered (though not as clumsily as was done for other examples on this page.) MTV supposedly respects the show and repeatedly assured the fans that they were going to great lengths to avoid clumsiness. However, after the official release, fans reported that some replacements have proven clumsy anyway. One particular instance that might prove noticeable even to new and casual fans concerns an homage to the music video for REM's "Everybody Hurts" in the episode "Road Worrier", which has completely different-sounding music in the current print.
- Daria also had the music removed when aired on The N and Logo.
- Duckman received a few music edits on the DVD sets, including removing a sequence when "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In" played in the episode "Not So Easy Riders". Luckily, none of the Frank Zappa tunes were affected by this practice.
- The accordion music for the original version of the Pingu episode "Pingu Has Music Lessons From His Grandfather" was deleted from the re-soundtracked Sprout airings and DVD prints because the producers were unable to get a copyright clearance for it. The original version with the censored music were only found on the UK VHS release for Building Igloos and on Cartoon Network airing.
- A similar issue also occured in "Pingu Helps With Incubating". In the original version, there are scenes where Pingu turns on a record player and dances with a song. The song was the Video Kids hit "Woodpeckers From Space". The redubbed version replaced the music with an instrumental version of David Hasselhoff's "Pingu Dance" (which would be the redubbed version's opening theme).
- The original version of "Ice Hockey" had a version of the song "Hand in Hand", which originally was sung in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Again, the evil guys from HIT dubbed this over with another song.
- The home video and DVD versions of The Wrong Trousers in the US had some of the songs replaced — "Happy Birthday to You" in Gromit's birthday card, and "Happy Talk" and "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window" on the penguin's organ. Presumably these songs are either public domain or much cheaper to acquire the rights to in Britain.
- Averted with the very first DVD release of the Wallace and Gromit shorts, which features the original soundtrack.
- While most episodes of Kim Possible are available on iTunes, several are not, most likely due to issues with music rights. For example, "The Golden Years" has Nikki Cleary performing "Summertime Guys", while "Queen Bebe" has an animated version of Smash Mouth playing "Come On Come On".
- The SWAT Kats villain Morbulus was originally named "Occulus." As he had eyes in the back of his head, this name made sense. However because there was a Marvel Comics villain named that, Hanna-Barbera, fearful of incurring Marvel's wrath (even though Marvel never actually complained), redubbed all of the dialog to change Occulus' name to the somewhat less meaningful "Morbulus," which has nothing to do with the character's extra eyes. He is still identified as Occulus in model sheets and storyboards, though, and in a brief mention in a script written after the change was made. Apparently the writers still referred to him by his original name behind the scenes.
- The first airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas was sponsored by Coca-Cola, and the Coca-Cola company demanded elements related to their drink to be put into it. Most (if not all) of these were cut in subsequent broadcasts, and on home video releases. This also explains why the "Christmas Time" song sounds like it cuts off, because the song initially ended with a shot where Linus ran into a Coca-Cola sign.
- Also, the cast singing Hark, the Herald Angels Sing fades out during the credits for no explainable reason, because the original had an announcer saying that the special was brought to them by Coca-Cola