Music Licensing & Copyright

When you make videos to share on the internet, music is an important part of setting the tone. However, using music without the proper licensing and permission has consequences. You could have the sound muted on YouTube or receive a take down notice from the entity that owns the copyright to the music. Using copyright free songs can help you avoid the hassles of copyright strikes, which are about as fun as they sound.

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What Is a Copyright?

U.S. copyright laws protect songs, novels, music and other works from being used or reproduced without the expressed permission of the copyright owner. They don’t protect ideas, though. Let’s say you happen to make up a little ditty while jogging in the park but do nothing with it. If you hear it on the radio a month later, don’t count on suing the artist for copyright infringement.

Recorded songs and published books enjoy copyright protection because they exist in a tangible form. If you want to reproduce them in your video, you need to ask permission and get a licensing agreement to use the song.

A Copyright Owner’s Rights

Copyright laws primarily protect the creator’s effort and time. The creator can sell these rights and transfer them to a third party, such as a music label. The Copyright Act gives exclusive right to the copyright holder, and the most important of these is the right to reproduce the work.

Reproducing the Work

You can use songs with no copyright in videos, but songs protected by copyright cannot be performed or reproduced without permission.

The copyright laws leave some holes when it comes to modern music. However, they generally ensure that creators receive compensation for their work. The music industry has acknowledged the need for a streamlined licensing process. It’s not always easy to identify who to talk to and whether there are limitations on a song that you want to use.

What Are Copyright Free Songs?

Songs without a copyright don’t have copyrights associated with them. These songs belong to the public domain. Works lapse into the public domain when their copyright expires, such as music produced before 1924, and works owned by the federal government. Other songs become public domain when creators surrender their copyright.

Legally, you can use these songs however you like. However, you may want to provide attribution out of courtesy. Functionally, you can use copyright free songs in new works and distribute them in your videos online.

How Free Is Free?

As with most things, you shouldn’t take websites directly at their word when you see a copyright free song. If you search Spotify or YouTube for “copyright free song,” a number of tracks show up. However, the actual agreements restrict the use of many songs to private, noncommercial use. This means that you can’t use them in monetized videos.

When you see sites that list songs without a copyright, make sure you understand the license terms. Find out whether it allows you to use it as needed.

Where Can I Find the Right Songs?

You can find reputable sites that manage large music archives. Audiosocket makes it easy to find music to license without limiting your search to songs without a copyright. We can also work with you if a song is outside your budget.

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