Using Copyrighted Music in Your Online Videos: What You Need to Know

What music do you plan to use in your next promotional video? Perhaps you heard a song on the radio that was perfect for your next ad campaign. Or, you may have a song in your mind that is from 10 years ago. Can you use them? It is important to consider the restrictions and limitations of using copyrighted music in any type of video whether it is for promotional use (such as a product launch) or a social media post. Not understanding a few key rules could put your business on the line from copyright violations.

Do You Need Permission?

The short answer here is yes, it is always necessary and better to get permission to use any copyrighted material before you do so. If the content is copyrighted by another person, it is illegal for you to use it without their permission. And, doing so could result in legal action against you. Most often, it is not hard to obtain such permissions, but missing this step can be costly.

So, how do you get such permissions? There are often two ways to do so. You can ask the artist themselves for it. An email or written letter is best here and you’ll need a signed document saying you can use it. The second option is to pay a licensing fee for the music. You can do this rather easily online and it does not necessarily cost a lot of money to do so.

Will Anyone Really Find Out?

Many times, videos placed online are thought to be hidden. After all, the internet is so big that it is not possible that the musician holding the copyright will actually find your video, right? That’s not the case. In fact, YouTube, a popular location for posting these types of videos, is notorious for removing content like this. You’ll have to prove that you have the right to use this type of content. Simply, they will find out and the risk is very high.

What Should You Do?

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider your options in creating and implementing music into your online videos:

  • If you do not have permission to use music from the copyright holder and you do so, they can legally come after you for royalties. That is they can take a part of the profit from your video.
  • You shouldn’t avoid using music because of these types of rules. The key here is to simply learn how to use music in the proper manner. It is far too valuable for most videos to leave it out.
  • Are you thinking about live streaming and using music in the background? Here is a big thing you need to know – live streaming music does not work any differently than if you were to use music in a produced piece. That is, there are still protections in place safeguarding the owner.

Perhaps the best way to make this process simpler is to create videos that allow you to use copyrighted material through licensing. Using a video production company to manage the process for you can also be a benefit here. The goal is not to stop using music – that actually could hurt the outcome of your next video. Rather, it is simply to follow key rules that can protect your business.


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