Licensing Music from a Reputable Source

Learn more about Copyright Infringement

As tomorrow’s production professionals and cinematic storytellers, it’s essential to recognize the importance of properly licensing music from a reputable source. Read on to find out how bad copyright infringement can really be and score some tips on how to make sure you’re licensing the right way.

Copyright Infringement – What’s the worst that can happen?
In 2014, breakout YouTube beauty blogger Michelle Phan was sued for $150,000 by record label Ultra Records for use of unlicensed tracks in her videos. With 8.9 million subscribers and over 1 billion total views, Phan was a major star but the $150,000 claim for damages per infringement is standard industry practice. Both parties ultimately settled out of court for an undisclosed fee, but the case clearly brought to light the significant costs associated with copyright infringement.

I’m a student and I don’t make money from my video/film. Can I claim ‘Fair Use’?
It’s important to remember that just because your video is produced at school or is for school use it doesn’t automatically mean that the copyrighted music is for educational purposes.

It is possible to use a copyrighted work without a license if you can show a ‘fair use’ for including that material in your project. ‘Fair use’ must constitute relevant use of copyrighted media. As an example, if you were creating a documentary project on female voices in the Civil Rights movement it may be possible to use selected, relevant audio from a Nina Simone song under ‘fair use’ doctrine. However, using the same track over the end credits of a drama set during the late 1960s would likely not be applicable.

In addition to relevance it is important to note that ‘Fair Use’ is a legal defense, not a preemptive way to make copyright claims go away. Rights holders can still sue, and you may be liable for legal costs.

Bonus Fact: Ever hear that you can use 15-30 seconds of audio and claim it as ‘fair use’? It’s a myth.

For more information on Fair Use, see CSU’s helpful guide.

I want to do it right. What does a proper music license give me?
There are two parts to a music license; synchronization and master use. The former grants permission to synchronize the audio with your visual work, and this is generally obtained by the publisher of the music. The latter element is the Master license which allows you to reproduce or ‘copy’ the song for use in your work. Generally, this license must be obtained from the record label who own the rights.

Because these rights often have separate owners, the process of gaining licenses can be a time consuming and expensive endeavor. A common solution is to source music from a reputable production music library who own both the Master and Sync rights to the music. This makes the process of properly licensing the music you need quicker and easier. It is also more cost-effective.

The best production music is created by professional musicians with exceptional creative talents. By properly licensing their music from a reputable source you gain peace of mind knowing you are legally covered to use the music, you invest in the quality of your work by accessing high quality audio files, you effectively control your budget based on reliable and consistent pricing, and you ensure creators just like you are paid properly for their work.

How do I challenge a Content ID or Copyright Claim on YouTube?

  1. Best Practice

    Only challenge claims against your videos in cases where you own or have licensed all the rights to the content in your video.

  2. Understand the Law

    If you wish to dispute a claim based on fair use or public domain works, made sure you fully understand the applicable laws and seek legal advice if necessary.

  3. File Your Dispute

    File your dispute by signing in to YouTube Studio. Under either the ‘Monetization’ or ‘Visibility’ column you will see ‘Copyright Claim’ beside the video in question.

  4. What happens next?

    After you dispute the claim the copyright holder has 30 days to respond.

    They can:

    – Release the claim if you show you have the right to the content in dispute.
    – Uphold the claim if they believe your dispute is not valid.
    – Submit a takedown request to YouTube resulting in a copyright strike against your account.
    – Let the claim expire after 30 days with no response.

To find out more about licensing music for schools or use in student projects, visit firstcom.com where we offer licenses created specifically with the budgets and needs of institutions and students in mind.

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