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Clumsy Copyright Censorship

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"Where'd it go? Where'd it go?
That other song is gone!"

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 Re-Release Soundtrack. 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. Compare *Bleep*-dammit!, which is when profane content is clumsily censored.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • With a few exceptions, the Japanese audio track on the original Funimation release of Kodocha simply cuts out at certain points throughout the series because Johnny & Associates, the talent agency for the band TOKIO, wouldn't allow their music or derivatives of the songs to be used, nor feature any mention of the band members. This also led to the first opening theme, Seven o'Clock News, being replaced with the second theme, creating spoilers galore, one of which would never be resolved during the original run. This was finally reversed in the Discotek Media rerelease, where due to a change in the agency's management (the founder of the company passed away in 2019 and his niece took his place), the offending cameo and song remained intact. The same thing happened to The Skull Man (which featured TOKIO's City of Light song), and a similar issue happened with Akazukin Chacha's home video releases.
  • 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, though modern day releases avert this.
  • The same applies to Darker than Black, where they magically turned into "Pizza Slice" instead. At least for Code Geass, the logos were left untouched for the US bluray release.
  • Numerous real-world logos were digitally removed from the US release of Lupin III: Part II.
  • Doctor Slump had numerous panels featuring Ultraman or Ultraseven 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 appearances/mentions of Godzilla or Gamera, and the entire supporting character of "Suppaman" were left untouched.
  • Girls und Panzer: Episode 8 of the original anime has the cast of the Russian-themed Pravda school sing the traditional song "Katyusha", which is in the public domain in Japan and Russia, but still under copyright in the U.S. As such, instead of the original song, the North American release ended up replacing the song with "Korobeiniki" (aka the Tetris Song), while the formerly singing characters are awkwardly close-moouthed.
  • Lucky Star often bleeps out references to other anime series, such as the time when Konata says she can name every Pokémon, and when she discusses the Gundam franchise with her father. 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. There are also random words bleeped out during their conversation that don't have anything to do with Gundam to add to the humor.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler does the same thing, and since it happens all the time it's much more noticeable.
  • Ditto for I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying, which censors the titles but normally has a reference to that work right before or after it that isn't censored.
  • Promotional material for the Oreimo anime romanizes Saori Bajeena's name as "Saori Vageena".
  • Inuyasha has its first opening, "Change The World", replaced with Inuyasha's instrumental character theme ("Hanyou Inuyasha") on Netflix.
  • Pop Team Epic's anime censors copyrighted material a few times. Given the nature of the show, the censorship doesn't feel too out of place.
    • One skit has Popuko doing an impression of M*ckey. The name is partially bleeped out when said.
    • The episode "SWGP 2018" features Dick Dastardly and Muttley participating in the Skeleton race and being blown up by the bomb they dropped to hinder the competition. Both characters are pixellated on television, but the Japanese home media releases of the episode has the appearance of both characters uncensored.
    • In one skit in the titular segment of "Encounter", Pipimi, depicted as Totoro, had her appearance pixelised. The censorship was not lifted in the Japanese home media releases.
    • One segment showed live-action footage of a boat while audio of Popuko doing a Steamboat Willie parody played in the background. This is different from the development still posted to Twitter, which was a straight adaptation of the gag from the manga, making it clear that it got the "Nice Boat" treatment out of legal fears. The scene was not restored in the home video releases.
  • In Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san, the names of books have one or two letters censored in the subtitles, and a scratching sound covers up the spoken dialogue. It's still easy enough to guess what they're talking about if you know the original title.
  • Later issues of the edited edition of Nelvana's dub of Cardcaptor Sakura replaced the ending theme ("No Nagging" by French Eurodance group Froggy Mix) with an instrumental of Dave Dore's theme song for said version.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features many references to American and British musicians in the form of both character names and Stand abilities, which creates a problem for dubs in places where the producers would get sued into oblivion for it. Early adaptations simply transliterated names differently like Mahrahia, J. Gail, and D'Bo. The more complete English language releases post-2012 instead go for similarly sounding or similarly themed names, particularly for Stands. Sometimes this actually works out well, like turning Crazy Diamond into "Shining Diamond" (preserving the "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" nod), or Made in Heaven to "Maiden Heaven", but more often than not it just gives audiences both new and old instant classics like Green Tea, Worse Company, and Flaccid Pancake.
    • Surprisingly averted in the final arc of Part 4, where an important plot point behind the cycle of Bites the Dust is lightning striking a Pepsi sign. In the localizations for both the manga and anime, the Pepsi sign and all mentions of it remain intact, which is pretty amusing when considering that Coke products in the series were always turned into Bland-Name Products (Coca-Cola becoming Coco-Cola, and Sprite becoming Sparite).
  • The fifth episode of No Game No Life has a scene where the characters see a location similar to Laputa. While the name remains uncensored (possibly because it's not the only fictional Laputa), the word "Balse!" is bleeped for this reason, as that line makes it clear that they were referencing the Studio Ghibli film (that, and the fact that Sora and Shiro are suddenly cosplaying as Pazu and Sheeta).
  • The North American release of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam wasn't able to get the rights for the either opening or the first ending, replacing them with instrumental pieces from the series' soundtrack. Not only is the opening track blatantly mismatched to the animation (because it replaces upbeat rock themes with an ominous orchestral piece), later releases of both still have the sing-along Japanese lyrics for the songs that use to be there!

    Card Games 
  • 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, it was retitled James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game. The official product description had even included the line, "We'd tell you what it was once called, but we'd rather not get another letter." In 2016 it was re-retitled Before I Kill You, Mister Spy....

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics 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.
    • In late 2012, the Sonic comic had to remove hundreds of characters and concepts due to legal issues with former writer Ken Penders and it was decided that the "Endangered Species" story arc would be rewritten to accommodate this, with the story's original happy ending being changed to having the planet's entire Echidna population being banished to another dimension. Issue 243, the first part of the storyline, was already mostly finished when this was decided and couldn't be significantly changed before release. Instead, the editors quickly and haphazardly removed as many references to Penders' work from the text as possible, with the names of characters and locations being deleted and replaced by other terms and descriptors that used a much more bold font, inadvertently identifying the parts of the script that had been altered.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The trade paperback 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 that refers only to a "heroic alien cyborg".
  • IDW's original reprints of The Transformers (Marvel) suffered from this big-time. Because of some references to 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 (while she was a character created for the comic, Marvel secured the rights to her by including a cameo by her in Secret Wars II before her proper debut in the Transformers comic): 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, IDW was eventually able to work out a deal with Marvel that enabled them to reprint the comics a second time, this time with the issues that featured Spider-Man and Circuit Breaker completely intact.

    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 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 over the years, the reprints of these stories have been altered, turning the various heroes into expies. More in detail:
    • Spider-Man 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", has 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 there before.
  • A celebrated passage in Sex Criminals features the central characters singing along to Queen's "Fat-Bottomed Girls" in a bar. The original serialised comic issue had the lyrics blacked out and a note to say that the creators hoped that they'd be able to get permission to quote the lyrics in the TPB. The TPB has the lyrics blacked out and a note apologising that they couldn't get permission.
  • Spoofed in You Are Deadpool when the character travels back to the events of Fantastic Four #1, and due to the complicated behind-the-scenes stuff Reed Richards and Sue Storm are just off-panel, with Sue declaring she now has "the power to be off-page for years at a time!"

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Mystery of Mamo has, in its original theatrical release, a short shot of Lupin III hanging out with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other DC Comics superheroes. For obvious reasons, this would have been unacceptable to TimeWarner (who owns said DC superheroes) once the movie was released in the US by Geneon, and so it was replaced with an obvious freeze frame leading up to the next frame without that image. However, the scene is left intact in Discotek's re-release.
  • Wallace & Gromit:
    • 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.
    • This also applies to both DVD and more recent television airings, in the UK.
    • Averted with the very first DVD release of the Wallace & Gromit shorts, which features the original soundtrack.
  • In the CG holiday movie The Littlest Light on the Christmas Tree, a Salvation Army charity sign has its text removed for copyright reasons, except in one shot that they forgot to edit.
  • The original VHS release of Monster Mash (2000) and its DVD release that was featured in a box set with Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman and four episodes of Archie's Weird Mysteries ended with a music video where the original Bobby "Boris" Pickett version of the Monster Mash song was set to clips of the animated film as well as ones from classic Universal horror films. The independent DVD release by NCircle Entertainment omits the music video because of licensing issues.
  • Toy Story: Sid is stopped from torturing Woody when his mother announces his Pop-Tarts are ready. Sometimes, when the film is aired on television, her entire line is silenced.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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-pefennig 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. The 2018 4K remaster replaced it with a giant Pepsi sign.
  • 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.
    "No 'Stairway'...Denied!"
    • It wasn't until the 2022 4K Blu-ray release that the "Stairway" gag was finally restored with the original music intact.
  • The broadcast versions of Demolition Man remove all references to Taco Bell. It 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 (1999) cut out the shot of the Yahoo! billboard falling, as well as cutting the site's jingle and name out of the hero's next line.
  • Parodied in Nick Offerman American Ham when he had the radio on while carving wood. An intellectual property attorney comes in and tells Nick Offerman to turn the radio off, and complains that he stole his client's melody.
  • 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 of 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, and was shown in a special feature on Shout Factory's Blu-ray release.
  • Little Nicky:
    • The broadcast version is particularly jarring because of the prominent Product Placement.
      Nicky: Popeye's chicken is fuckin' awesome!
      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).
  • A rare non-copyright version of this trope occurs in Battle Beyond the Sun; jittery travelling mattes were added to the American version in an (unsuccessful) attempt to censor Soviet iconography and Russian lettering on spaceships.
  • 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).
  • Escape from Tomorrow has one scene where Jim asks someone "You work for D*cky?" even though he'd already said "It's Disney World!" earlier in the film.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd, being a free-to-watch web series, has pretty much no restrictions when it comes to showing and naming the games and consoles the Nerd reviews, including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600, but the commercially released Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie changes the game's name to "Eee Tee" and crudely alters the box art and the graphics to feature an incredibly stupid-looking, but technically copyright-friendly alien. Even though the censorship seems to break the continuity of the web series, an entire episode was made by editing the actual game footage back into the game review segment from the movie and the real cover art has been shown since, further calling attention to how silly it is.
  • The Story of Techno Viking, about an anonymous shirtless dancer at the 2000 Fuckparade who caught the interest of the internet, was forced to crudely black out every instance of him showing up in the film due to lawsuits.
  • It's a Wonderful Life fell into the public domain in 1974, but in 1993, Republic Pictures (now owned by Paramount), claimed a copyright on the music. This eventually prompted such streaming services as Tubi and Pluto to post the movie with updated music. The latter print also boasts less accurate writing credits, listing Charles Dickens instead of Philip Van Doren Stern as the author of the original tale.

  • 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 in 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 a British release of The Catcher in the Rye (which rewrote the whole highly American book into British English) 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.
  • Books LLC is a publisher that sells Wikipedia and Wikia articles as downloadable and printed books. However, these books exclude the images from the original web documents and put URLs pointing to the web images in their place. Their FAQ explains that this is done to respect copyright laws and because the online photos don't have high enough resolution to print them in a book.

    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 (1970) 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 much of the music restored.
    • In many cases, whole scenes were removed. Hulu's version of the infamous "Turkeys Away" episode cuts out a scene between Mr. Carlson and Johnny Fever because the scene revolved around the song "Dogs" by Pink Floyd. Emily Vanderwerff of Vox has a whole article about this.
  • 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 the 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.
    • 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 released this serial on DVD in 2010, but outside Region 2 the scene in question was cut, 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. For the narrated cassette 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.) For the CD and animated versions, the dialogue was filtered out so that the Beatles track could be replaced with an easier-to-license alternative.
    • "Spearhead From Space" used part of the instrumental "Oh Well (Part One)" by Fleetwood Mac (the original blues-rock version, not the Buckingham-Nicks incarnation) as incidental music for one sequence. It was replaced by library music for the VHS and the first DVD release, but the second DVD release and the Blu-Ray release reinstated it, either because the attitude of the rights holder changed or because there was more money available to pay for music rights after the comeback of the show.
    • The BBC did their best to avert it with "Revelation of the Daleks", which featured a large number of copyrighted sixties rock songs due to a major guest character being a Fan of the Past. 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 with a generic hard-rock instrumental, without losing the dialogue occurring over the top of it.
    • Possibly as a result of the problems with "Revelation of the Daleks", the Fifties-set story "Delta and the Bannermen" featured cover versions of well-known songs by an on-screen band consisting of the soundtrack composer and some of his friends.
  • 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.
    • The 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.
  • Tour of Duty was filled with music that was popular during its Vietnam War setting but it all had to be replaced with soundalike music for the DVD release.
  • The State was long thought unreleasable due to its extensive use 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 such a large part of the scene they had to cut out all of the sound in it. It's 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 started humming the A-Team song over the new soundtrack.
      • Even worse, when the American flag-painted motorcycle is brought out, you now hear the Star Spangled Banner instead of the original Born in the USA. This makes the joke about thunder and the road fall flat.
  • 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...This also happens on Disney+, though the few home video releases the show had kept the music intact, including hit songs of the time period such as "Survivor" and "Everywhere".
  • The Season One DVD set for Profiler is missing Episode 4. Why? Because the episode featured 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 Entertainment 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 Celebrity Jeopardy! skit also uses a Suspiciously Similar Song to the show's "Think!" music on YouTube, yet TV broadcasts of the skit use the actual "Think!" 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 NickRewind 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. This also applies to the show's iTunes release. Saturday Night Live is very similar because ALL skits with copyrighted music and the musical performances themselves are eliminated from iTunes and VOD copies, yet the intros still state the name of the musical guest.
  • 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 do ridiculous things to avoid even showing the sponsors; in some interviews, when the player is wearing a cap or is in front of a billboard, they switch to an extreme close-up, sometimes showing only the player's face, but cutting off the top of their head!
    • They also avoid mentioning any non-sponsor brand. The F1 team Red Bull Racing is always referred as RBR. This gets ridiculous at times; on 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.
    • In January 2017 (halfway through Season 34), the show's music package was overhauled. However, one week of episodes aired in April 2017 was taped prior to the music change, so the new music cues had to be dubbed in. This resulted in several sloppy audio edits, and a couple of instances where the old music was accidentally untouched. Similarly, the weekend rerun feed (consisting of episodes from Season 33) and Summer 2017 reruns of episodes before the music change were altered accordingly.
  • 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 & Roll" by Bob Seger, using a cucumber as a microphone, was not removed.
  • Fine Living repeats of Iron Chef had replaced the theme song, "Show Me Your Firetruck" from the film Backdraft.
    • IS applied now to all airings of the show regardless of location.
  • The Netflix versions of several episodes of Still Game suffer from this. One episode has an entire segment trimmed away to almost nothing (where Isa tells Archie the Hermit about everything that's happened in the last 40 years) but the worst offender is the episode Wireless, where Jack, Victor and Winston try to track down an old record (Rose Marie by Nelson Eddy) to play on a hospital radio show for a dying man. In the Netflix version, the song (along with the moment where the man dies peacefully as he listens to it) is never heard. As with the DVD releases, the opening theme tune is also changed from its original broadcast version. Strangely, the Christmas & Hogmanay Specials DVD has the stand-in theme for three episodes, but the original theme is intact on the fourth.
  • The US DVD release of Series 2 of Open All Hours removes a scene where Granville parodies Singin' in the Rain.
  • When Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was released on DVD and made available for viewing on Netflix, the opening and ending theme songs had to be replaced because of copyright issues.
  • When A Bit of Fry and Laurie was released on DVD, the final sketch from the sixth episode ("Tony of Plymouth (Sword Fight)") of the first series had its music changed from "The Sea Hawk" to a new piece of music, due to copyright issues. Unfortunately, unlike the example for the Doctor Who episode "Revelation of the Daleks", the effort to replace "The Sea Hawk" with a new piece of music was subpar at best, thus drowning out most of the dialogue.
    • Averted when the show was on Britbox, which used the original version of the episode, with the "Tony of Plymouth (Sword Fight)" sketch left untouched.
  • Due to copyrighted music that the BBC did not license for Only Fools and Horses, some home media releases cut scenes from the show, some cuts date back to the initial VHS releases starting in the early 1990s, and some of the edits were made subtly by music replacement, but some were made by removal of entire conversations or even scenes. These edited versions are still the only versions available on DVD today.
  • This is a common complaint for fans of The Wonder Years (where the theme song sung by Joe Cocker was replaced by a cover for the Netflix version), Supernatural (where all of the copyrighted soundtrack music is changed on Netflix, including the show's Signature Song, "Carry on Wayward Son" by Kansas), and Malcolm in the Middle (where the entire series has not been released on DVD in Region 1 due to music licensing issues.).
    • The Time-Life DVD release of The Wonder Years was able to relicense almost all of the music.
  • One of the biggest examples is with Wiseguy, which excises an entire season from DVD releases because of its dependence on licensed music.
  • Everybody Hates Chris is filled with licensed music, most of which comes from the era the show takes place in. For a time, 70% of Season 1's episodes remained missing from streaming services, Hulu in particular. With the emergence of Peacock, the missing season 1 episodes were reinstated on both services, but with generic soundtrack music to replace the licensed songs. The captions on Hulu still retain the lyrics from the songs that were replaced, however, leading to a jarring case of this trope.
  • On the first season of the late 90s game show Peer Pressure, a giant Magic 8-Ball displayed the categories and number of moves contestants could make. For seasons 2 and 3*, all footage of the Magic 8-Ball was cut out and replaced by graphics that covered the entire screen and displayed the category. They most likely didn't want to keep paying Tyco trademark fees.
  • In reruns and streaming copies of 30 Rock, the subtitles state different songs than what is played because of copyright. For example, in the episode "Jack The Writer," Tom Jones' "She's a Lady" plays in the original broadcast, but "Who's that Lady?" by the Isley Brothers plays in later prints.
  • Some of the BBC-era episodes of The Goodies on DVD, even on the 2018 complete series DVD release, had to receive edits to replace some imagery and music with substitutes due to copyright concerns, even going as far as replacing The Beatles song "She Loves You" with a cover version for "Goodies Rule - OK?" (but at the cost of losing the sound effects as well including the boos from the audience when they get angry at The Goodies).
    • Original prints of The Goodies episode "Invasion Of The Moon Creatures" featured footage of Mr. Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series, but for the 2018 complete series DVD release, it had to be substituted for footage of the Third Doctor from Doctor Who due to BBC and Network being unable to reach a deal with CBS.
    • This is mostly averted on Britbox due to older prints being used.
  • In an episode of The Greatest American Hero, the song "Eve Of Destruction" is removed despite it having plot and theme relevance, and Ralph even explicitly saying the name of the song.

  • 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.
  • Despite 2ManyDJs managing to successfully clear all 114 samples used on As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2, clearance for the album cover photo (which had to be altered in the first place to avoid infringing on Elton John's personality rights) could not be obtained and so had to be masked in correction fluid, showing only the text and paper bag doctored onto Elton's head.
  • 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' 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" in which Denver is Killed Mid-Sentence) was removed from Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album and replaced with an announcement from 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.) Records made them change it at the last minute (which they did somewhat bitterly, "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. The version featured in Gran Turismo 3 however, kept the English fourth verse.
  • 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. On current CD copies, the cover has a distinct area of blank space where a title clearly should be... However, the 2015 vinyl reissue got around the copyright issue by officially changing the title to Lice-All, which of course would be pronounced the same as the original name.
  • 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 the empty sky or the three balloons.
  • Voodoo Glow Skulls' Who Is, This Is? featured Krillin on the cover. Apparently, they didn't officially license the character, as a 2012 digital reissue pastes a luchador-like mask over his face.
  • Rappers Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh were two of hip-hop's early victims. Their first two popular songs they did together, "The Show" and "La Di Da Di", borrowed lyrics from The Beatles' "Michelle" and A Taste Of Honey's "Sukiyaki", respectively. Since they didn't get clearance to use the lyrics, they were completely (and due to both verses being in the middle of the song, clumsily) removed from later releases, effectively ruining both songs.
  • Beck's head is blurred out in the beginning of his "Loser" video, because he was wearing a Star Wars mask that he did not get permission for.
  • Megadeth has covered Nancy Sinatra's hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin" for their first album with slightly altered (more vulgar) lyrics. Ten years later the original lyrics' author, Lee Hazlewood, complained about the version being "vile and offensive" and demanded it be pulled from future reissues. The remastered 2002 version of the album included the song with all modified parts from the original lyrics bleeped (and a Take That! from Dave Mustaine in the album's booklet, where he explained they decided to have some fun with the song because the original one sucked and called out Hazlewood on cashing those royalty checks he received for ten years before airing his grievances). "The Final Kill" remaster released in 2018 contains a re-recorded version of the song with Hazlewood's original lyrics intact.
  • The music video for "(Weight's Goin') Up Down, Up Down" by Cledus T. Judd censors the names of Chick-fil-A, KFC, Arby's, Krispy Kreme, Dairy Queen, and McDonald's (along with the words "Quarter Pounder" and "McFlurry") due to demands from CMT. The censored version is also the only version to be found on YouTube, but the single download from iTunes is uncensored.
  • LL Cool J and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers contributed the song "I Make My Own Rules" to the soundtrack album to Howard Stern biopic Private Parts, but Cool J's label held the rights to his stage name and wouldn't let it be associated with another company. Therefore the packaging of the album replaced his name with a black censor bar, followed by the other musicians being credited individually. Despite this, LL Cool J says his own name in the lyrics.
  • When Yellow Magic Orchestra reunited in 1992, they learned that they couldn't actually call themselves by their band name or even as the initialism "YMO" due to it being trademarked by their former label, Alfa Records. Consequently, they decided to bill themselves as... Not YMO. Represented by "YMO" crossed out by a large X. This stuck throughout the brief one-year reunion, and after spending the 2000's as Human Audio Sponge (HAS), then HASYMO, the band would eventually switch back to "Yellow Magic Orchestra" in 2009 after regaining the rights to the name.
  • The US single version of S'Express's sample-heavy "Theme From S'Express" replaces most of the vocal samples with the band's own vocals, likely due to Capitol Records being unable to get clearance for said samples.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Up until recently, after losing a lawsuit with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in 2002, 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)note , 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).
    • 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 versions however, use a brand new version of the "Recognized 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. The settlement with the charity meant that any WWF logo cannot be used for new programming (the images for old WWF PPV's on the WWE Network use the altered WWE logo while the programs themselves are unedited).
  • 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 commentarynote .
    • 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. Even his own theme in WMXXVII has replaced Johnny Cash's "Ain't No Grave".
    • The YouTube version of Triple H's WrestleMania entrance edits out Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls".
    • New Jack was particularly a huge problem for WWE, because as part of his gimmick his theme song, "Natural Born Killaz" by Dr. Dre & Ice Cube, had been playing throughout the whole match non-stop, not just during the entrance and victory celebration as usual, making it impossible to change it without losing commentary. They didn't solve the problem at the time of WWE Network launch and had to cut almost all his matches entirely. Eventually they rerecorded the commentary for the matches and placed a generic hip-hop track in the background.
    • ECW wasn't the only promotion that was using music it didn't have the rights to, Smoky Mountain Wrestling also used real songs as entrance music for most of its talentnote . The time and expense needed to edit it out may be why (as of the end of 2022) only 11 of the 200 episodes of the SMW TV show are available on the WWE Network.

  • 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 SomaFM 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. They attempted 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech contains a particularly infamous example; FASA got permission to use about 20 mecha designs from the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross in 1984, only for Harmony Gold, the creators of the adaptation Robotech, to threaten a lawsuit in 1996. As a result, though the designs could be statted out, they could never be depicted visually (either as artwork or models) despite remaining in the pre-existing and subsequent lore and gameplay. There were multiple attempts to get around this, such as a 2003 sourcebook depicting altered designs as new variants of the mechs (the old designs still exist, but again are not depicted). In 2015 they finally went around the issue entirely by performing one of the series few Ret Cons; the old mech variants were given altered art that resembled the old ones but were distinct enough for copyright purposes.
  • 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.
  • In the 1950's - 1970's, the Airfix model company released figure sets intended for tabletop wargaming that were tie-ins to then-popular TV series, containing character figures based on the TV characters. When large parts of the Airfix range were bought out by figure manufacturers Heller and Ha T for re-release in the 1990's/2000's, it was immediately noticeable that the sets were given more generic titles even though the contents were unchanged, despite the fact that TV shows like the original 1950's Robin Hood, The High Chapparal and Tarzan of the Apes were just antiquated black and white memories. These became, respectively, things like "Early Mediaeval Knights and Men-At-Arms'', "English Longbowmen", "Cowboys, Design Two" and "Jungle Adventure". Even though the TV shows were largely forgotten, copyright law still applied.

    Video Games 
  • Originally, the 1989 Sega Genesis game The Revenge of Shinobi featured doppelgangers of Rambo, 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 rereleases (See Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin). Its latest revision for the Virtual Console and subsequent releases recolored the Spider-Man boss pink (Activision held the Spider-Man license around the time of the game's Virtual Console release).
  • 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 I, ZZ Top were 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: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work, 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 were 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, the reason is that EA secured the rights to all teams and players from the NFL for the Madden series.
  • 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.
    • The SNK-produced SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium on the Neo-Geo Pocket Color has an interesting side effect in one of its endings due to this. Yuri dismisses M.Bison by stating "M.Bison? Schmega!" as opposed to "Vega? Schmega!"
  • 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". note  Not only were the names of the eateries changed, but the soundtracks were completely replaced as well, so no more The Offspring or Bad Religion for you.
    • The latter is averted in the iOS and Android ports, though.
  • On the PSP and PS4 ports of PaRappa the Rapper, P.J. Berri and Katy Kat ordering chocolate frosties in the intro have the "frosty" part muted in their dialogue, most likely due to the Wendy's company placing a copyright on the word. Despite this, a sign that reads "Frosty" can still clearly be seen in the background at certain points.
  • The Virtual Console rerelease of the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden removed the second boss's theme, due to it being too similar to Black Sabbath's "Iron Man", so the stage BGM continues to play during the boss fight.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Originally, Sonic Spinball had the title screen themes of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for its title screen music, which can be heard in leaked prototypes. Just before release, the composer was informed that he did not have the rights to use the song, so a new title screen theme had to be composed last minute.
    • Avoiding this trope was the reason it took so long for Sonic 3 & Knuckles to receive a modern remaster like its predecessors, given the wide array of composers that worked on the games (like Michael Jackson) and their individual licensing rights to specific tracks. Some observers believe that MJ-composed songs were intentionally removed from the PC compilation release Sonic & Knuckles Collection due to this trope, but as it turns out, a beta of the game released in November 2019 revealed that the replaced tracks were actually planned originally all along. When the game was finally remastered as part of Sonic Origins, it used the Collection version of the soundtrack instead of the original; this time it was to get around licensing issues.
  • Halo 2 Anniversary replaced the licensed songs by Breaking Benjamin and Incubus with original music.
    • Similarly, the original Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary had to change the red crosses on the health backs to caduceuses; this is because the red cross is actually a trademark of the, well, Red Cross, in addition to holding significance under international law that the organization doesn't want to be diluted by overexposure.
  • Many Simulators will do this, for the reason that since they're most commonly set in the real world, they want branding on buildings and vehicles to be close to those in real life, but they aren't always able to get the licensing from the relevant companies.
    • Many routes in the Rail Works / Train Simulator series will do this - an example of this can be found in the WCML Trent Valley Route DLC, where an Argos shop in Nuneaton has had its logo changed to the similar-sounding 'Angus'.
    • New York City Bus Simulator is full of lazy attempts to bypass copyright, most of which are shown in 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.
  • MechWarrior, set in the BattleTech universe, was likewise affected by the Harmony Gold lawsuit preventing the designs licensed from Super Dimension Fortress Macross from appearing. Starting with Mechwarrior 3 in 1999, these "Unseen" Humongous Mecha were completely absent from the games despite their prominence in the fluff and their popularity due to their balanced stats, until the release of Mechwarrior Living Legends in 2009 which featured the "Warhammer" and "Rifleman" mechs (both of which were licensed from Macross), which got away with it because it was a non-commercial game.
  • After Rare was bought by Microsoft, many changes were made in re-releases and remakes that originally had involvement with Nintendo.
    • The Xbox 360 port of the Banjo-Kazooie, originally for the Nintendo 64:
      • The Nintendo 64 logo in the opening is gone.
      • The Nintendo logo on Mumbo's Xylophone is replaced with the Microsoft Game Studios logo.
      • In an aversion, Banjo still has his Game Boy, but the start-up sound is removed.
      • In another aversion, Gnawty, a beaver from Donkey Kong Country, is still there and with the same name.
    • The Xbox 360 port of Banjo-Tooie, originally for the Nintendo 64:
      • In the original version, Kazooie explicitly says the name Mario when she says Loggo should call a plumber, but in the Xbox Live version, he is called "That well-known Italian gentleman".
      • There was a fridge magnet written "DK" for Donkey Kong in the original version, but it was changed into "BK" for Banjo-Kazooie.
      • In an aversion, the N64 cartridges found in the game are still there, but they give you different items.
      • Some questions of the Tower of Tragedy were changed:
      • "What game does not have a refrigerator magnet in the Workers Quarters in Grunty Industries?" In the original version, the correct answer was Banjo-Kazooie, but now it's Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
      • The question "How many buttons has an official Nintendo 64 controller got?" (10) has been changed to "How many buttons has an official Xbox 360 controller got?" (13).
      • Goggles the Mole is playing with a Donkey Kong doll in the original. He was kept in the Xbox Live version, but he doesn't have his necktie anymore, and the question about the doll with which Goggles plays has also changed. Instead of Donkey Kong, the answer is "an adorable gorilla".
      • In Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, the instructions on how to play the game are changed to match the 360 controller. The biggest problem is with Jamjars, who rhymes his instructions — they made no effort to come up with new rhymes.
    • Diddy Kong Racing had a remake for the Nintendo DS in 2007. In it, Banjo and Conker were removed and replaced by Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong. The fact that Conker originally was meant for a cute and cuddly video game that eventually changed into a gross and violent game also helps.
      • However, many other characters are still Rare property like Timber, Pipsy and Tiptup, the original copyright notice says Rare owns the game, and the notice of the remake says Nintendo owns it, but some characters are still Rare property.
    • Conker's Bad Fur Day had a port for Xbox One in the Rare Replay compilation, with some changes:
      • The Nintendo logo is removed from the opening cutscene.
      • The opening cutscene where Conker cuts the N64 logo with a chainsaw is removed, and so is the part where Conker pulls the Rareware logo from his pocket.
      • The part that says "Nintendo presents" is replaced with "Microsoft Studios presents".
      • Similar changes were made in the Xbox remake Conker: Live and Reloaded.
  • This trope seems to be going on the rise when it comes to mobile games that utilize copyrighted characters without permission, especially the monster-raising MMORPG ones. This applies to the screenshots of the game in question, where the characters actually featured in-game are either covered up with Captain Ersatzes or left as silhouettes in order to dodge the app store's copyright violation detection. Another variation involves covering up the characters with bright white light from one corner/side while still keeping what's left of whatever implied features are shown in the screenshot.
  • Two levels of Lemmings were originally titled "Mary Poppins' Land" and "The Far Side". Later versions renamed them "Umbrella Land" and "The Other Side", respectively.
  • After the German mobile game developer Spooky House Studios sent a cease and desist to the developer of Spooky's House of Jump Scares since they were trying to trademark "Spooky House", the game was renamed Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion with the new name written on tape and pasted over the old logo.
  • When the No Man's Sky and Super Mario Bros. parody game No Mario's Sky got slapped with a DMCA notice by Nintendo, the creators intentionally chose awkward replacements for the Mario content: Mario characters were replaced with blatant Captain Ersatzes, and the game was retitled DMCA's Sky.
  • The Yo-kai Watch spin-off Yo-kai Watch Blasters is loaded with changes in its Western localization to avoid potential lawsuits with Sony Pictures and the creators of Ghostbusters (1984). From its name (called Yo-kai Watch Busters in Japanese), to the outfits of the special Blaster versions of Jibanyan and Komasan (going from jumpsuits to vests), to changing the appearance of the final boss (a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man parody, changed to be a Godzilla parody instead).
  • The Legend of Zelda was going to use Maurice Ravel's Bolero for its opening theme, until the developers found out it was still copyrighted, forcing its last-minute replacement with a slowed-down arrangement of the Overworld theme.
  • Ys: Memories of Celceta, the Video Game Remake of Ys IV: Mask of the Sun/The Dawn of Ys, does not include the Battle Theme Music piece "A Great Ordeal", despite it being one of the original game's most iconic tunes. As with the aforementioned Metal Gear Solid example, its omission was probably due to it being a blatant Suspiciously Similar Song to Yngwie Malmsteen's "Far Beyond The Sun".
  • In a trailer for Fortnite's Party Royale mode, there are two shots where Kirby is briefly visible. For obvious reasons, uploads on both the official PlayStation and Xbox channels blur him out in both instances, which, if the comments are to be believed, only ended up drawing more attention to Kirby's presence.
  • Game & Watch: The Tabletop version of Mario's Cement Factory originally had "Another One Bites The Dust" as its opening jingle. Later revisions swap this out for a generic jingle.
  • In NieR: Automata, some of the supporting cast as well as most bosses are all named after European philosophers. Jean-Paul is named after Jean-Paul Sartre. He was meant to be called just Sartre but it seems that thanks to legal threats from the notoriously litigious Jean-Paul Sartre's estate, the name was changed. Even so, while discussing tasks related to Jean-Paul's Melancholy Side Quest, whenever 9S says Jean-Paul's name it is beeped out. Presumably, this is because the English dub as read called the character "Sartre" and to avoid a possible legal mess and/or having 9s' voiced Actor Kyle McCarley redo the dialogue, they opted for this.
  • The European releases of Cool Spot completely remove all instances of the 7-Up branding from the game (for example, the 7-Up bottle Cool Spot surfs on in the intro became a generic, label-less bottle). This was due to Fido Dido being the soft drink's mascot in Europe (who was intended to have a game of his own, but it was cancelled before release).
  • When Piko Interactive released the Barkley: Shut Up And Jam! games on Steam (excluding that one, of course), they obviously could not get permission to use the name nor likeness of a former basketball star, so they instead opted to rebrand the games as Hoops! Shut Up And Jam!, and replace Charles Barkley with a No Celebrities Were Harmed equivalent known only as "Joe Hoops". However, it only takes one quick glance to realize that Joe Hoops is simply just Barkley with a different name and what is very obviously a generic stock image of an angry African-American man's face over his, amplified by that there are a couple of stray miscolored pixels on his forehead where the watermark of the stock image company used to be: they couldn't even be bothered to legally purchase the stock image they used.
  • In the original versions of Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius, the music in the first stage was a remix of "That's The Way" by 70s disco group K.C. and The Sunshine Band. When the game was re-released as part of the Parodius Portable collection on the PSP, it was replaced with a beatmania track to avoid copyright problems.
  • In VVVVVV, one of the rooms in the second Intermission stage is called "Whee Sports". When the game was submitted for a 3DS port, Nintendo initially denied its submission for this reason, and the room's name was promptly changed to "Copyright Infringement", a change that would stick for all future console ports.

    Web Animation 
  • 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 Website/YouTube version of Dwedit's "JamezBond" replaces his picture with a silhouette filled with text lampshading the situation (seen above).
  • Many older Eddsworld videos ran afoul with copyrighted music. The Eddsworld Extra channel would reupload most of these, but with the copyrighted music removed. A good chunk of videos have been affected, most notably the first "Zombeh Attack", which originally featured "The Blue Wraith" by I Monster in the opening sceneNote, the use of The Land of Chocolate song during the mall scene, and the use of Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" during the fight scene. The 2007 Halloween special was similarly affected, with all music from Zombies Ate My Neighbors removed. Including... Strangely, "The Dudette Next Door", despite its usage of songs by Def Leppard and Cyndi Lauper, remains on YouTube in its original form.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A How It Should Have Ended spoof of Disney's Frozen (2013) originally had a cover of "Let it Go", but Disney made HISHE change the lyric.
  • After House of Cosbys received a C&D from Cosby's legal team, the unofficial House of Cosbys 5 censored out every reference to his name and likeness; however, it was done extremely crudely, with his face obscured by a black square that often slid out of position, and name bleeping mistimed to the point where it eventually happened after his full name was said.
  • SMG4: Due to YouTube's copyright rules becoming stricter, many episodes were temporarily taken down around 2021 for using copyrighted music for certain scenes. All of these episodes were later reuploaded, albeit with the scenes containing the music being completely muted with no explanation given in the episode.
  • When Weebl & Bob was moved from the Mr Weebl YouTube channel to HUHA!, several copyrighted songs were removed. The changes remained when Mr Weebl re-uploaded them on his own account in 2020.
  • While Zero Punctuation is generally very light on copyrighted material for a video game review series (he does animations in lieu of in-game footage and largely refrains from music aside from one-off gags), he's still occasionally ran into this for one reason or the other:
    • His original review of LittleBigPlanet in 2009 featured a gag scene of Yahtzee shaking his butt with googly eyes glued to his boxers to Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova". In the much later compilation release of all his 2009 reviews, the scene was overdubbed with a generic, copyright-free tune.
    • Late 2023 saw him do a dual review of El Paso, Elsewhere and... a game that he wasn't allowed to identify due to the game's review embargo being suddenly extended by the time the review was completed and meant to go up. The game is simply identified as "?", with all the preexisting animation and voiceover identifying titles, characters, and the makers by name being censored with black boxes with question marks and static noise. Based on some of the context hints (it was a small-scale licensed game, taking the form of a rougelite dungeon-crawler knocking off Hades), it appears the game was Hellboy Web of Wyrd.


    Web Videos 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd:
    • In the DVD releases of the 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, Angry Video Game Nerd: The 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.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • The 2011 Nostalgiaween episodes featured a parody of the intro to The X-Files, complete with the theme music to that series. When Channel Awesome reuploaded the episodes in 2018, the X Files theme was replaced with a different song entirely, though the credits for The Hauting play both the new theme as well as the theme to The X-Files.
    • The Garbage Pail Kids Movie ended with Critic singing Also Sprach Zarathustra while the Casper review ended with Critic chasing Casper (set to the theme to Ghostbusters). When both were reuploaded, the endings were stripped, with the former ending with Critic being a dirty piece of crap, while the latter ends with Casper making a shocked face.
    • Short Circuit 1 & 2 dubbed the use of the Bee Gees' "More than a Woman" in the first film with Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On". In the 2015 reupload, the song was muted, resulting in the audio quality noticeably taking a drop until the 15:13 mark in the video.
    • The review of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! removed the opening credits on its 2016 reupload due to usage of the opening song from the 1966 special, and the closing credits were similarly cut (due to usage of "Welcome Christmas", also from the 1966 special).
    • The reupload of The Pebble and the Penguin muted the usage of the theme from Free Willy in a scene, though the subtitles still read "[ FREE WILLY THEME ]".
  • All of Prince's songs and videos were banned from YouTube until a year after his untimely death, when his VEVO channel opened.
  • Speaking of YouTube, a very common sight on there is copyrighted TV shows and movies that are cropped, given a large border around the video, or a "starburst" pattern obscuring part of it, as well as speeding, altering the audio to have a lower or higher pitch, or flipping it as a mirror image. While this makes it a teeny, tiny bit harder to catch because it trips up auto-flagging on copyrighted stuff, it does absolutely nothing to stop the rights holder from making a claim against it.
  • Sam & Mickey's "The Wedding" disappeared after a claim on its usage of Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams", necessitating the duo to replace the song with audio of Mickey singing a parody.
  • After gillythekid's review of The Emoji Movie was copyright claimed by Sony, he reuploaded it with the following text slapped over the footage from the film:
    Sony copyright claimed this video, so now you guys have to see this ugly bs on the screen the whole time, enjoy.
  • YouTuber Allec Joshua Ibay has been hit hard by this. As most of his videos use footage from Air Crash Investigation, some of them have been taken down due to false DMCA violations. (Eg: The original version of Frozen in Flight).
  • The VHS release of Scott The Woz's video The Internet and You, produced in limited qualities for a 2019 charity fundraiser, redubbed most of the music used, due to fear of potential copyright issues. Due to the edits, the version on the VHS tape has difficult-to-hear dialogue, while the version on YouTube retains the original copyrighted soundtrack.note 
  • Oddity Archive has dealt with this trope a lot due to YouTube's infamous copyright system consistently tagging the series despite it falling very well into fair use. Host Ben Minnotte has usually gone and uploaded offending episodes to the Internet Archive.
    • The seventh episode of the "LaserKaraoke" subseries was unable to be hosted on YouTube, due to YouTube repeatedly tagging the covers used on the featured videos as being the real hit recordings. In response, Ben uploaded a "YouTube-friendly" version of the video, which cuts out all of the offending song clips; the video went from 37 minutes to a mere 13.
    • This similarly also happened to the episode "VHS Vault Vol. 11 (D-I-V-O-R-C-E)", which had to be truncated due to one of the videos featured being copyright-claimed by another company that hasn't reissued it. This is especially ironic as Ben has positive feelings towards that particular title that was featured.
    • "VHS (& Beta) Vault Vol. 16 (A (cautious) Romantic Tale)" had an entire segment, specifically riffing on the video How Can I Tell If I'm Really in Love?, removed due to it being claimed by Broadway Video - despite them not owning any sort of rights to that title.
    • Spoofed a bit in regards to Disney, which is often bleeped out and/or censored with asterisks whenever they're mentioned in the show. It's almost a Running Gag, so much so that host Ben Minnotte "corrects" himself when he accidentally mentions them fully in the followup to the "Disposable DVDs" episode.
  • Rocked's "Regretting the Past" series focuses on reviewing albums track-by-track that shouldn't have been popular, and usually clips of the albums' songs are played as they are reviewed. Naturally, this has caused YouTube to block certain episodes for copyright despite falling under fair use; as such, certain episodes have had to have certain song clips silenced or edited out, often at the expense of making certain voice clips distorted. Eventually, the series stopped using song clips altogether during the track reviews.
  • Spoofed in an update video about Nerrel's The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask HD texture pack, where he briefly mentions the unofficial Super Mario 64 PC port, but the footage is blurred out, the names of several Mario characters and the name of the game itself are bleeped out, and Mario's voice is even replaced with a text to speech voice.

    Western Animation 
  • The print of the Mickey Mouse cartoon "Mickey's Surprise Party" used for "The Spirit of Mickey", is altered to remove refrerences to Nabisco at the end by digitally editing the background to avoid Product Placement and having Russi Taylor redubbing Minnie's lines at the end. Russi's new lines clash badly with her original voice (provided by Marcellite Garner) and the sound quality of the rest of the whole cartoon. It was later presented in its original form on the first Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color set on DVD.
  • 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 releases 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- which first aired two weeks before they confirmed they were lip-synching their music the entire time.. There, 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. The Italian dub still has the Milli Vanilli songs in it anyway.
  • 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 R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" in the episode "Road Worrier", which has completely different-sounding music in the current print. The N and Logo also showed episodes with different music, though despite their heavy censorship of the show The N retained more of the original songs than the DVDs, Logo, and later MTV airings do.
  • Drawn Together: When the show was forbidden from using "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" on the DVD release, a quick parody version was produced to fill the space and Lampshade that fact.
  • 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 one Cartoon Network airing.
    • A similar issue also occurred in "Pingu Helps With Incubating". In the original version, there are scenes where Pingu turns on a record player and dances to 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, HIT dubbed this over with another song.
  • All releases of the original 1960's-early 70's Peanuts animated specials removed the Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison sponsorship tags following their original broadcast dates. They did this by cutting those segments out of the specials entirely. The drop-out is the most noticeable in the case of A Charlie Brown Christmas this censorship keeps us from finding out whatever happened to Linus when Snoopy was spinning him and Charlie Brown around (he crashed into a sign reading "Brought to you by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola"). The ending of the special (where the gang sings "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing") also fades out awkwardly due to the ending originally containing an on screen message saying "Merry Christmas from the people who bottle Coca Cola" before being altered in the late 60's to eliminating the credit and replacing it with an announcer spiel for Coca-Cola that drowns out the last vocals of the song. Nowadays, those sponsor tags are quite sought-after, and Coca-Cola even volunteered to restore the tags for the 2008 reissue of A Charlie Brown Christmas; Schulz Studios turned the offer down. The tags can still be found online however thanks to an original 1965 print of the special being discovered in 2018 and shared online.
    • Similarly, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! had animated sponsor tags for the Foundation for Full Service Banks edited out at the beginning and end of the special, resulting in the screen going black and the music dropping out for a moment before fading back in. Unlike the Peanuts tags however, the Grinch tags weren’t readily available online and were lost for years until they resurfaced online in 2021 after a search by the Lost Media Wiki.
  • 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.
  • Something Nickelodeon has been doing for episodes of their shows featuring licensed music is that, to avoid dealing with the legal issues, they cut out the entire A-segment featuring the licensed song, while leaving the B-segment alone. Specific series to follow this trend are ChalkZone, with the segment "The Smooch" (featuring Baha Men's "Coconut") cut from the Amazon DVD of the series, and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, with "Party at Neutron's" (featuring songs from The Movie) removed from the Australian DVD release of the first season. Shout Factory's complete series set released in 2021 included the episode, but with the music changed. In ChalkZone's case, the credits were untouched, revealing both the lost episode and the song that got in the way.
    • SpongeBob SquarePants was hit hard by this in the first season. All of the background production music from The Woodies were replaced on most DVD releases. Recent season 5 airings have also replaced two Woodies songs. The first season set also lacked "Help Wanted" due to its usage of Tiny Tim's "Living in the Sunlight, Loving in the Moonlight", which Nickelodeon didn't want to pay license fees for; it later appeared intact as a bonus feature on the season 3 set.
  • Robot Chicken Season 1 DVD had the sketch with Beavis and Butt-Head joining the Teen Titans removed from the episode due to legal issues. The resulting episode ended up suspiciously short. Syndication and international airings, as well as Hulu and HBO Max, kept the sketch intact, as well as in disc 2 of the Season 5 DVD. Most fans agree that this is an odd case for a show that has been known to treat the concept of fair use as a mere suggestion.
  • Averted, but only slightly in the case of the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. During the creation of many early Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, the title card would feature Walt Disney's name in big letters. As episodes went on, Walt's name would be suspiciously shrunk in favor of Winkler Productions (the parent company who commissioned the shorts) receiving larger and larger billing. Winkler Productions would keep asking to have his name struck completely from the card during the entire relationship attempt to obscure and hide Walt's name (unbeknownst to Walt, they held the copyright to the character AND were stealing away his artists.) Eventually, Winkler Productions took over the cartoon from Walt and his name was struck from the cartoons altogether. Future showings of Oswald cartoons made in the wake of Mickey Mouse's incredible popularity tried to tie the cartoon back to Walt, but ultimately the damage was already done. Many of the cartoons that have been recovered since then have mysteriously appeared missing the frames of the title cards, and reproductions based off the very first title card with Walt's name receiving larger billing have been used as a result.
  • European airings (and later the Disney+ release) of Gravity Falls (inconsistently) removed the Pac-Man-like emblem on Grunkle Stan's fez, presumably to avoid any lawsuitsAlternatively
  • The Simpsons episode "Specs And The City" reuses a Station Ident animation created for Channel 4 of Homer trying to grab beer hanging from a power line, repeatedly causing power surges across Springfield - it then pans upward to a skyline view to show the surges appearing in the shape of a "4". In the episode where this appears, the final shot is awkwardly changed to try and remove the 4, but it's still possible to make it out.
    • In "Scenes From The Class Struggle In Springfield", Marge buys a discount Chanel suit and later buys a dress from the label to replace it. According to the DVD Commentary they were allowed to say "Chanel" in dialogue but were not allowed to show the company's logo. So when Marge checks the suit's label and visits the store the logos are always partially hidden by scenery.
  • Old syndication version of Futurama episode "A Tale of Two Santas" (as shown on Adult Swim, for example) had a small one during the scene when Bender tries to convince a family he is a good Robot Santa and says "But I come bearing Tri-ominos!" while holding a Tri-ominos box. Yet in closed captioning, it says Stratego. It was fixed in DVD release, and in subsequent closed captioning for streaming services.
  • Used In-Universe for laughs in the Invader Zim episode "Door to Door". The children are forced into selling candy bars to fundraise for the school, with one of the prizes for selling candies being what is very obviously a box of Band-Aids... But since Band-Aids are trademarked, whenever someone in the promotion film for the fundraiser says "Band-Aids" they're overdubbed by a completely different voice saying "Adhesive medical strips". Later, Miss Bitters gets overdubbed by the same voice when one of the children sells enough candies to win one.
  • This unfortunately happened to Mission Hill when it was released on DVD. As the copyrights to all the music had expired, they were forced to dub over them with royalty-free music and change a few lines of dialogue. Unfortunately it was done very sloppily: there are lulls in sound, parts where the music drowns out dialogue or comes in way too loud, a blatantly obvious replacement of the name "Gordon Lightfoot'', and it even causes a couple of Plot Holes and Orphaned References where the choice of song was actually foreshadowing something else.
  • Clone High: Mr. Butlertron was originally named Mr. Belvetron, but they couldn't secure the rights. He still calls everyone Wesley, though.
  • The 1936 Max Fleischer short A Coach for Cinderella, created to promote Chevrolet, has an alternate cut where the final shot of the Chevrolet automobile is cut short as it fades out to the ending title card. As seen here.

  • The International Olympic Committee has taken an increasingly aggressive line when enforcing its trademarks in recent years, to the point where some London hotels found themselves served with a cease-and-desist for even mentioning the words "Olympic Games" in their advertising in the run-up to the 2012 Games. Any Product Placement that the Committee hasn't paid for is also verboten, to the point where Games staff were actually sent into each venue's bathrooms to tape over the maker's marks on the sinks and toilets.
  • The IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee sued the Gay Olympics in 1982 for trademark infringement. The Gay Olympics changed its name to the Gay Games.


Video Example(s):


UMA Sponge?

Fuuko mishears the word 'spoil' for 'sponge'. You will never guess who decides to show up.

It's not even a reference via a crude drawing, it's literal official artwork just pixelated.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / ClumsyCopyrightCensorship

Media sources: