Frequently Asked Questions

Finding & Watching Films

What’s the best way to search the site?

You can type keywords into the search bar at the top of each page – but don’t type in any dates or years. Search for a keyword, then use the date slider and Advanced Filters to hone your results.

Alternatively, you can use the Advanced Search.

Our clip descriptions and keywords are based largely on the notes written by the cameramen and editors at the time they were filmed. This information wasn’t always accurate and some details are missing, so do try alternative spelling and be as vague in your search terms as you dare. Contact us if you have any trouble.

How do I see a film you haven’t put online yet?

Our entire archive is viewable on our website, so there aren’t any dusty film cans hidden away somewhere that we’ve yet to get to. If it’s not on the site, it has either been lost or was never part of our collection. But there can be some trial and error involved in finding the footage on our site, so do contact us if there’s any doubt.

Where can I see the full film rather than just the preview?

The “For Preview Only” text on videos refers to the fact that a film must be licensed prior to using it rather than to the length of the film. In fact, what you’re viewing on the website are the complete videos. They do tend to be rather short since they were news items – so they’re similar in length to the news bulletins you might see on TV today.

Do you have cut footage or deleted scenes?

We do! All unused material is also viewable on our site, so you’ll see them in search results or in a particular film’s Related Videos.

There’s a problem with a film. What do I do?

First, please check the year of the film’s release. If it’s from the 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, or early 1930s, it may well not have sound. This isn’t a mistake – it’s just that sound film wasn’t invented until 1927 – and British Pathé took a few years to catch up! Also note that unedited or unused material may well not have sound as it was often added after filming.

If a film does not play, the wrong film plays, or if there are any other technical issues, do let us know and we’ll do what we can to fix it.

 

Cataloguing Queries

There’s a mistake in the description. Can you correct it?

Our clip descriptions are based largely on the notes written by the cameramen and editors at the time they were filmed. This information wasn’t always accurate and some details are missing. Due to the sheer number of films in our collection, we can’t always correct these errors, so if you want to make an issue known to other viewers, please leave a comment beneath the clip for them to see. If it’s a particularly bad error, you might want to send us an email.

Can you give me more information about one of the films?

Unfortunately, all of the information we have is viewable on the site.

What’s an Issue Date?

That’s the date the clip was first released in cinemas rather than the date of filming. If you’re visiting the website from outside the UK, do note that the British system of dates is DD/MM/YYYY.

What’s the Media URN?

That’s an internal reference for our staff. If you need to refer us to a specific film, please use the Film ID number instead – or send us a link.

What’s Time In/Out?

That’s the point at which an individual film begins and ends on a reel of multiple films. The duration of the film is the difference between the Time In and the Time Out.

What are the Canister and Sort Numbers?

Don’t worry about those – they’re really for use by British Pathé staff. They’re simply a way for us to know which film reel a particular clip is taken from.

One of your films or descriptions is offensive. Can you take it down?

Our films reflect the time in which they were made, as do the original notes made by the cameramen or editors from which the clip descriptions are mostly derived. The language is indeed often offensive to modern viewers, but we do not censor the content – they are a part of the historical record. However, if you have any specific concerns, do get in touch.

 

Using the Site

What’s your policy on comments?

We welcome opinions on, and discussions about, our films. But please note that we are not able to respond to every one, so if you’re leaving a comment that requires an answer, contact us via email or phone instead.

If you believe any of the information on our site is incorrect, do leave a comment on the film for other viewers to see. Due to the sheer number of films in our collection and the amount of comments they receive, we can’t always make your suggested changes, but your comment is of value! It makes other viewers aware of any mistakes.

Please read these house rules before you post a comment:

1. Published comments are visible to all users of the website. Once posted, a user is not able to delete or edit a commment, so please be sure before you write anything.

2. Please be respectful. Comments should be relevant to the film. Do not use sexual or obscene language or swear words. Do not insult other people.

3. Libel and abusive comments should not be made or encouraged. Comments that are deemed racist, offensive, homophobic, sexist or prejudiced against any religions or other groups will be removed. Insulting, threatening and defamatory comments are not allowed.

4. Do not reveal any personal details or submit private information about any other person.

5. Advertising a product is not allowed on www.britishpathe.com. This includes links to personal, commercial or fundraising websites. Please do not post links (URLs) to other websites in our comments section.

6. If you suspect any comments do not abide by our house rules, please use our Report Abuse button in the comments section. This should only be used for serious complaints and not just for comments you disagree with.

7. We reserve the right to delete a user account for breaching these rules.

What are WorkSpaces?

They’re basically collections of films or still images. You can either create your own or explore ones created by other users.

You can only create WorkSpaces if you are a registered user. All your WorkSpaces are stored under “My WorkSpaces”, a link which can be found in the top right-hand corner of the site. That’s also where you can delete or edit your WorkSpaces (including reordering the clips or adding your own notes).

You can share a WorkSpace with your friends or colleagues by sending them the URL.

Do note that the default setting for WorkSpaces is public, so other users can see them. If you don’t want your WorkSpace to be visible to others, click on a WorkSpace, then on “Edit this WorkSpace”. Under Privacy, you can uncheck the “Appears in search and profile” box. Do be aware that friends or colleagues will no longer be able to see the WorkSpace, even if they have the URL.

What are the benefits of registering?

You’ll need to register to create WorkSpaces or to purchase downloads. It’s free of charge and easy to do. Just click here and enter your chosen username and password. Don’t forget to click the link in the confirmation email you’ll receive after registering.

If you’re a media professional, museum or education user, you may be entitled to further user permissions. Find out more.

My login details don’t work. What should I do?

First check that you have clicked the link in the confirmation email you receive upon registering. This activates your account. It can sometimes take a few minutes to come through, or it can get stuck in your junk folder, so do take a look in there.

If you’ve forgotten your password, click “Log In” then “Forgotten Password”. We’ll email you a reminder.

How do I change my details or password?

Click “My WorkSpaces” to be taken to your profile. There’s a big B/W “Edit” button on the right-hand side. Click that. You can then alter your details or click the “Change Password” button to – you guessed it – change your password.

 

Buying Films for Personal Use

How do I purchase a copy of a film?

Any film that’s available to buy (that’s nearly all of them) has an “Add to Basket” option in blue to the right of the video player. Click that, then go to your Basket where you can enter your card details and purchase a copy. Please read the information in your Basket as it provides important details about your purchase (for example, the resolution of the film). Note that purchased films come as downloads and not on DVD and will be the same length as the versions viewable online.

If you’ve lost your film, you can always download it again from your account. Just log in, then click “My Orders” in the top right-hand corner of the site.

Can I get a refund?

If there’s a problem with a film, we’ll always provide a replacement or a refund. But please be aware that we cannot offer refunds if the film was as advertised. All information about the film’s resolution and length can be found in the Basket section and you can click “sample media” to see an example of what your purchase will look like.

How do I get a copy in high resolution or without a watermark?

These are only available to customers licensing content for use outside of the home.

Is it possible to buy stills?

Currently, members of the public cannot buy stills via our website. However, if you are interested in purchasing one, please email us at info@britishpathe.com.

What can I do with my purchase? Can I put it online or use it in a film?

Unfortunately not. All purchased downloads are just for home viewing and don’t come with rights to use them in any other way. If that’s what you intend to do, please contact us prior to purchasing at licensing@britishpathe.com.

I feature in a film. Can I get it for free?

Sadly, we’re not able to offer films or stills free of charge. With a collection of 85,000 films featuring millions of people, we get many such requests and with the expense involved in producing and holding such files, it simply isn’t possible for us to give them away.

 

Licensing

What do I need a licence for?

Under UK copyright law, which is respected by international agreements, British Pathé’s films and still images are not yet in the public domain. That means you will need to pay a licence fee in order to make use of our material in any commercial or non-commercial projects. If you want to display footage publicly, broadcast it, distribute it, sell it, place it online, use it in lessons or presentations, or anything else, you will require a licence. Click here to get in touch and acquire one.

How much does licensing cost?

Prices depend on the platform, territories, licence period and how much footage you want to use. Please contact us for a bespoke quote.

If you’re contacting us from a charity, please note that you’ll still need to purchase a licence. We get many requests for free footage and unfortunately we’re simply not able to give away our material. But we have a range of rates and we will take your charitable status into account when quoting.

How does licensing work?

We’ll quote you for your project per minute and second of footage used. If you’re not sure exactly how much you’ll be using, we can provide you with screeners to use in your offline.

Alternatively, you can go straight for high resolution material by paying for a licence (do note that this is non-refundable). You pay for a certain amount up-front (there’ll be a minimum amount depending on the licence) and then, once your edit is complete, you can tell us if you used any extra. You’ll then pay for any additional seconds of footage that you used.

Do note that you’re not limited in the number of films you can use. If you license, for example, 60 seconds of footage, you can make up those 60 seconds from bits and pieces of as many different films as you’d like.

To let us know which films you’d like sending, please provide us with a link to the video on our website or its Film ID numbers. You can receive films in various formats and, depending on the format and the number of items, the turnaround time will usually be between 3 and 24 working hours after payment has been received.

Can I get screeners?

Absolutely! If you work for a production company or you’re an archive researcher, you can register as a media professional on our website. Then email us to let us know a bit about you and what you’re working on. Once we’ve confirmed your account, you’ll have access to free low resolution downloads.

Alternatively, you can order high resolution screeners (with a burnt-in timecode) for a small fee. Please contact us to do so.

Can you help with research?

Yes, we offer a free research service for all professional clients. Just email us with a description of what you’re looking for and we’ll do our best to find something appropriate.

Why are some films not available for licensing?

Nearly everything in our collection can be licensed. However, there is a small number of films that are listed as not being available for licensing. But note that we’ll often have the source footage that went into these programmes elsewhere in the archive.

Sadly, in-competition footage of the Olympic Games is not available for licensing in any form.

Are there any third party rights issues?

The archive is largely free of any third party rights requirements, but do ask a member of the licensing team if you’re not sure.

Are stills available for licensing?

They are. This page sets out the details.

If I credit you, can I use footage for free?

Unfortunately not. As a commercial licensing company, we do charge for the use of our footage. Because we receive no public funding, the entire cost of maintaining the collection is paid for through licensing.

I’ve got the British Pathé films from elsewhere. Do I still need to license it from you?

Afraid so. Regardless of whether you already have a copy of one of our films, we still retain the copyright, so you’ll need to get a licence from us to make use of the film.

 

Use in Education or Schools

I want to use films for educational purposes. Is that free?

Unfortunately, we’re not able to offer footage free of charge. As a commercial licensing company rather than a public institution, there is a fee for using British Pathé films. But we do try to take such usage into account when quoting and, if you’re contacting us from a UK school, our subscription service offers great value for money.

What benefits do subscribing schools get?

They have access to the following additional features:

Unlimited downloads of British Pathé material for use within the classroom.

Curriculum-specific collections created by teachers.

Permission to publish films on Secure Learning Platforms.

The ability to view the website free of all advertising.

How does my school subscribe?

If you’re a UK school, you’re eligible for our subscription service. Costs depend on the number of students in your school (unfortunately, it’s not possible to subscribe for only certain students, departments or years), so have that information to hand when you contact us. Click here to get in touch.

Unfortunately, we’re not currently able to offer subscriptions to universities, Higher Education institutions or schools outside of the UK, but you can license films in the normal way. For more information about licensing, contact us via this link.

My school already subscribes, but I need help using the service. What can I do?

We’ve created a User Guide for our new school subscribers. Hopefully that will answer all of your questions, but don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you still have any trouble.

Click here to download and print the User Guide.

 

About the Company

I’ve written a script. Can I submit it to you?

British Pathé is an archive of newsreels and documentaries. Although we share the same founder, we are not affiliated with the Pathé feature film company and do not make movies.

Can I visit the archive?

There isn’t much to see! Our collection is entirely digitised so everything is run by computer and our vaults are kept off-site.

Are there any jobs or work experience placements available?

We’re a very small company, so job opportunities don’t come up very often. But we’d be happy to keep your CV on file. Do note that we are not affiliated with the Pathé feature film company.

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer work experience.

Where do I find information about the company and its history?

We’re glad you’re interested! We’ve provided a detailed history elsewhere on the site.

How do you pronounce Pathé?

Not how our French founder would have done. Over the years, the company’s name has been anglicised and today we would say “PA-thay”.


 

If we haven’t answered your question, don’t hesitate to ask us via email.