How to Cite TV Commercials in MLA Format

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Have you ever quoted a really funny television commercial line? Probably. Well, chances are pretty good that the words or phrases were copyrighted. Here is how to cite TV commercials in Modern Language Association (MLA) format.

"Give Credit to Avoid Plagiarism"

Professionals who create audio, text or jingles for television commercials get paid for developing creative, interesting lines. Authors, writers and musicians create audio-visual works that are classified as intellectual property. Common decency requires anyone who quotes from a television advertisement to reference the source.

Most TV ads will be copyrighted also. Under the law, the owner of an artistic creation has all the rights to said work. Any one who wants to use this work must ask permission and pay a fee for its usage. For example, every time a radio station plays a famous song, it must pay the original artist a music-licensing fee.

Professionals writing reports, papers, articles or blogs must cite the source of the TV commercials they quote from. It is unwise to burn your bridges with an intellectual artist who could sue you if you try to steal his work. In order to reference using the MLA format, search for the original recording.

When you give credit through a reference, you create honesty, authenticity and integrity in the intellectual property field. You can avoid expensive lawsuits and bad feelings. Nowadays, a good video search engine can help you to find popular electronic media quickly.

Who made the ad? What was the brand? What was the company that owned the brand?

"Name Date and Brand"

You could also go on a general search engine and search by the memorable words or phrase. After each of the MLA Format listings for the TV commercial citation, you should place a period {.} Put the name of the commercial in "quotation marks."

If you can't find the exact commercial, you can name the products, service, company or brand; remember that trademarks are capitalized. In italics, write the television station or website where you found the commercial. Use the "less than" or "greater than" signs for the URL address. List the date the TV commercial was created or when you viewed it in a format like this - 22 Jan 1994.

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