Copyrighted Music and Audio for Your Videos: How to Use Them

Probably one of the most unclear areas over the Internet is copyright law. Violations happen by the hundreds, almost every day. Just log in to YouTube and you get to see violators in broad daylight.

Creators, most of the time, do not even realize that they have already violated copyright laws. This is especially true around music and audio copyrighted materials.

Music Copyright Made Clear

There are legal implications when you use any copyrighted work. To steer clear of copyright violations, the safest thing that you can do is to make your own hundred-percent original video content.

In using sound effects or soundtrack, the most crucial question that you need to ask is this – “Am I being a factor in hindering the original creator’s earning capability from his work?”. It does not matter if the original creator has not earned yet from his work – the fact still remains that he owns the original music and you are not supposed to use it without permission. 

Copyright law is a very complex issue but if you really have to use someone else’s music for your video, then know how to obtain permission. Getting that much needed permission still depends on the musical piece itself and whether or not it requires a license.

The only work that you do not need to get special permission is anything that is already in a public domain. This is any song or type of musical work that has been published in 1922 or earlier. This piece must also be in the public domain in the U.S.

Be careful in using songs on your video. The Happy Birthday song, for instance, does not belong to this usable list so the rule is simple – do not use it.

If the music that you want to use is not in the public domain, then obtain a license. Get a formal license so that you know that you are protected. Keep in mind that there are certain songs that have a separate copyright for the song as well as the recording of the song so, in this case, you need to obtain two licenses.

There are musical works that are royalty free and are, technically, free to use but when they are not in the public domain, then you still need to get a permission for it. These are often blanket permissions so they are quite easy to obtain.

You might want to visit the royalty free music websites and take a look at musical pieces that you can possibly use. Be sure to read the kind of license that these sites grant before you begin. Example of such sites are –

  • The YouTube audio library

Lastly, learn to distinguish between sharing a musical work and using it for your benefit. Sharing means you just post the link to the singer’s latest song on one of the social networking sites. Here, the owner retains his digital copy. Stealing, on the other hand, means taking a copy then loading it to sites such as YouTube. This does not monetize the work, hence, you violate the copyright law.

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