So, you’ve established an idea for a YouTube video – a concept, visuals, script. You’ve been busy writing, planning, projecting, and casting. But what about background music?
You weren’t planning on a silent movie, were you? Surely your video needs sound to be complete.
Your next thought is okay, I just have to surf through my playlists and grab some great tunes. Not so fast.
Unfortunately, there is a caveat.
Videographers beware of copyright infringement.
YouTube has rules, and you’d better follow them or your debut will never hit the box office.
It would be helpful to understand music copyright laws so you can stay out of trouble. Although it’s true that music is protected once “maestro” sets his or her notes to paper or recording, it would require something more concrete than that to win a battle in the judicial system. Know the following steps to complete the beautiful cycle of your video production process:
To really establish full protection, the composer must register his or her piece with the U.S. Copyright Office. Courts don’t like grey areas. This fills in the blanks with a black ink pen.
And forget the old “Poor Man’s Copyright.” This is the method where you mail yourself a copy of the work and keep it in a sealed envelope. Not happening with modern copyright laws.
A piece of music officially copyrighted through the proper channels offers airtight protection, so YouTube creators, don’t let your guard down.
Copyright Laws Restrict You From:
The content police at YouTube are on the alert. Did you know that YouTube developed a Content ID system that can detect illegal use of copyrighted music? You can’t fool YouTube. If they find that there is a misuse of content, your video can be taken down or blocked. The copyright owners can even track the video’s viewership statistics to determine if you monetized the video and should consider coming after you for funds.
How in the world would YouTube ever know if a music selection you plucked from the depths of the web is legal to use, you ask? They will more than likely find out.
Here’s the process:
Or maybe not.
Fortunately, there’s a treasure trove of non-copyrighted music out there. I’ve done the research, and there’s a pretty robust list of musicians and entities offering their music free of copyright restrictions.
Here’s what I’ve found:
If none of these options suit your fancy, here is a short list of other places to find copyright-free music:
I also spoke to Tim Stockman, CEO of Blue Dog Video, to get his take on where video production companies are getting their music. He said he uses a combination of Audio Blocks and Audio Jungle. "Sometimes to find the perfect audio clip," he says, "you have to pay. But you'll find the music much more original."
If you venture out on your own to hunt down other sources for non-copyrighted music, just be careful to read the fine print. Some websites charge hidden fees for usage, don’t adhere to restrictions in their entirety, or prohibit use in certain situations. Hell, even this list is subject to change. If you see any that are no longer free or have suggestions to this list, please let me know in the comments.
When it comes to your YouTube video you worked so hard to create and publish, better to be safe than sorry. Be sure the music you choose abides by the copyright rules set forth by YouTube.
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