Warning: Using Copyright Music Without Permission Is Illegal.


Some of you may be unaware that including favorite pieces of music in your travel, birthday, wedding or life story videos is illegal if that music has a copyright. It doesn’t matter if the only people who are going to see your production are family and friends. It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought the CD and are using only a few clips. It doesn’t matter if you’re never likely to get caught. The truth is that using someone’s original work and not paying for it is essentially stealing.

So what’s the solution? You can get permission to use the music from the copyright holder. This is not for the faint hearted. It can be a lengthy and expensive task – hardly something you’d want to do for Uncle Jack’s retirement video.

There are several other possibilities. What I do  is hire a local musician to compose and play original music for my videos. He’s excellent and has been kind enough to give me a great rate. There are all kinds of struggling young musicians out there who would love to compose and play something that would work in your video. Check out your local music school, University fine arts department and the Internet.

Another solution is to use royalty free music available from a number of  web-based companies.  One I discovered and would  certainly recommend is incompetech. It’s owner/composer/musician  Kevin MacLeod offers a wide selection of his own work and makes it available for free or a modest $5 donation. You can’t beat that.

I’ve assembled a partial  list of other royalty free music providers below. Just click on the site for further information. I haven’t used any of these, so I can’t personally vouch for them.

Photo by Olivier

8 Responses to Warning: Using Copyright Music Without Permission Is Illegal.

  1. i got permission to sing pressing on by the access with my church in a letter all i have 2 do is record it and put it on youtube so how was that costly?

    • @angel Thank you for dropping by and your comments. In your case I can see why there was no cost involved. When I was referring to cost, I had in mind getting permission for commercially released music. It is very time consuming because you need to get rights cleared for everyone involved who had some creative part in the music – lyricist, composer, musicians etc. The personal cost in time spent or the actual cost of hiring someone to clear rights can be considerable. Depending on how the selection of music is going to be used can also affect the cost. Hope this clarifies my earlier post.

  2. In 1992 I recorded an album with a gospel group known as the Land Family Singers. I am no longer in the group and have moved on however I have 2 original songs on that album that I am performing and they are now marketing it on the web and are selling this album again. What can I do? My songs are copywritten and published.
    Their website where they are playing the song is on their bio page http://thelandfamily.webs.com/bio.htm

    Thank you,
    Patricia (Johnson) Martinez
    AKA Trish Johnson per their bio

    • @Trish. I’m not an expert in copyright law, Patricia. I would think that your best bet would be to consult a lawyer who specializes in music copyright. All the best on this.

  3. I read on a U.S. based APH member personal historian site that:

    “Our clients can provide music they have purchased on a CD, or we will purchase music on their behalf through a legitimate Internet site, such as iTunes. As long as the client has purchased the music legally, royalty fees do not apply. Legally purchased music can be used for an occasion where no admission or fee is charged for listening, such as a wedding, Bar Mitzvah, memorial service, corporate event, etc. Since the project is strictly for personal use, legal use of the music is covered under the Fair Use Provision of the music copyright laws.”

    This appears to go directly against what you mention above. I believe here in Canada that purchasers of music or video medias can copy them as backups for personal use. I have heard free use includes the ability to use short clips of copyright material for journalists, but not an entire song(s) on a project a personal historian sells. Maybe if the person was doing an autobiography, but not allowing someone else to do it, especially if it is for profit.

    I have my doubts this is legit, but may take some time to look into it as if true, it would be a huge deal for us.

    Thank you,
    Larry Pfister

  4. Someone re-issued an hip hop Album online with a song I wrote without my permission, Profile own the music publishing but not the writers publishing. They never even got my release to have the song on the LP when it originally was released and I let it go because I was young and wet behind the ears, me and the artist. I know have a case what you think?

    • @Prince Cre. Thanks for your comments. I sympathize with your case but I’m not entertainment lawyer so I’m reluctant to give you any advice. You may have a case but I’d suggest you talk to someone who specializes in copyright law. Good luck!

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