Copyrighted songs and YouTube: Better Safe Than Sorry

Posted on: May 14, 2014

Category: General

Copyrighted songs and YouTube: Better Safe Than Sorry

(Image via Thomas van de Weerd on Flickr)

“Sometimes it just takes the perfect song to really complete a video”, you may think. Many professional photographers or videographers may feel that using recognizable music in their video will help build credibility and draw more views.


However, this “perfect” song could land you in some very hot water. Even if you are planning on creating a video for internal use in your company, it is important to understand the potential risks that you might face if you use copyrighted music. Below are three common questions surrounding copyrighted music and YouTube videos.


1) What happens if I put copyrighted music in a video and upload it to YouTube?

Should you put music in an uploaded YouTube video that is copyrighted, a few things may happen. The music may be muted, the video may be removed entirely from YouTube, the music may be allowed with the inclusion of purchase links (Amazon or iTunes), you may receive a Third Party Content notice from YouTube, or a combination of these options. Once you’ve published this music you’ve committed copyright infringement, even if you have purchased the music already.


2)What types of copyright license do I need if I still want to include the music?

Los Angeles entertainment and media lawyer Gordon P. Firemark explains that there are actually two types of copyright licenses required. They are 1) a copyright for the actual song, and 2) a copyright for the recording of the song. He explains that nowadays, you are often required to obtain two licenses – “one from the music publisher and record label, respectively.”


Crediting the artist in your video description often isn’t good enough. Using words such as “I do not own this” or other such phrases also does not guarantee your protection from copyright infringement.


3)What is Fair Use?

According to YouTube, “you can reuse copyright-protected material under certain circumstances without getting permission from the copyright owner.” Borrowing a small amount of material from an artist’s work, such as eight seconds may be more likely to fall under fair use, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Given this, it is still important to request use for the Internet.


We recommend to always do your research before uploading your video to YouTube. If you would like assistance putting your video together, don’t hesitate to contact us.






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