I’ve seen this dozens of times. A video is playing (either live or on-demand) and the person on screen says something like,
“Oh yeah, just so you know, we don’t own the rights to this music playing right now in the background.”
Or, on the post for their video, they write the same thing:
“WE DON’T OWN THE RIGHT TO THIS MUSIC.”
(I found 73,000 videos on Facebook and YouTube with this “disclaimer”.)
And while that may make the owner of the video think that absolves them of an issue, it doesn’t.
Saying you don’t claim ownership of the commercial music playing in your video DOES NOT release you of copyright infringement. It’s the same as saying “I didn’t pay for this” as you walk out of a store with a cart full of stuff.
Copyright Issues – A Different Perspective
If somebody knowingly (or unknowingly for that matter) were to reproduce or sell your copyrighted work (video, music, writing, etc.), they can be taken to court. In the US, that person could face a fine of up to $150k. Think about it; how would YOU feel if somebody used your work without paying you?
Crappy, I’d guess.
Well, guess what?
If YOU reproduce somebody else’s music in your video, even if it’s an accident, a number of bad things potentially await:
- On some platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, for example), if their bots uncover commercial music in your video, your video can be removed.
- If your video is taken down, you may be issued a “strike” against your account. On YouTube, after three strikes, you are blocked from the platform. That means all your channel’s content is GONE.
- You can be taken to court by the song’s copyright owner (the publisher, typically).
That means if you have music playing in the background of your video. . .
YOU. ARE. AT. RISK.
But Wait, What if I Say I Don’t Own The Music?
Saying you don’t own the music playing in the background of your video DOES NOT protect you from copyright infringement. Unless you have a legal document proving you’ve obtained permission from the publisher to reuse their work, you’re still in violation of copyright laws. Even if the music ended up in your video by accident, it doesn’t matter. You are subject to having your video deleted at a minimum and you being sued if the song owners are in a particularly bad mood.
But I Want Music. What Do I Do?
This is easy. What you’re looking for is called “Royalty-Free” music. You pay for the song (usually a one-time fee) and then you are given the right to use that music.
For example, I buy Royalty-Free music for many of the podcasts I produced. Or, when we do a live stream for a client and I need mood music prior to the show, I’ll use Royalty-Free music to set the mood.
In 2005, when I first began producing podcasts, I would have to pay $400+ A YEAR for a single Royalty-Free song. Now, there are websites you can subscribe to and get thousands of songs that can be used in all types of projects. And do so with just one overall subscription payment.
The bottom line is this; having music in your video is a great idea. I highly recommend it. But having somebody else’s music in your video is a great way to get yourself in a lot of trouble.