Music copyrights: how not to infringe

Music copyrights: how not to infringe

When creating content using music, it's important to learn the legal aspects of placing songs in your video and audio materials. This will help you avoid infringement of music copyrights, fines, and other problems.

What you need to know about music copyrights

Musical compositions, both with and without lyrics, are protected as intellectual property under current law.

There are the following types of copyrights:

  • Personal non-property rights - these are the right to be called an author, the right to a name, the right to inviolability.
  • Proprietary rights - the ability to legally use the composition in any way permitted by law. Also the property rights can be transferred to any physical or legal person.

In accordance with the Civil Code, authors, rights holders and owners of related rights can receive royalties for the exploitation of their intellectual property.

By uploading songs to streaming services, the copyright holder grants permission only to listen to them at home. But trimming, modifying music or incorporating it into their commercial and creative projects, regardless of whether the goal was to make a profit or not, is not allowed and is considered a violation of the law.

Therefore, to understand how to use music without violating copyrights, it is necessary to find out who owns them and observe the allowed ways of using compositions.

Who owns the rights to a song and how to find the copyright holder

A musical composition may have multiple authors. For example, the lyricist and the composer of a song are often completely different individuals, and each person owns 100% of the rights.

Often songs are written to order by authors and musicians who have contracts with production centers and record companies. In that case, these entities will be the exclusive rights owners.

How to find the right holders and get permission to use the music, especially when there are several of them? - Find the song in the registry of the Copyright Society. These are special state intermediary organizations between authors and buyers of intellectual property of any format.

"Copyright free music" - does it happen?

There are compositions marked "royalty free" on audio stacks and music banks. In fact, it assumes that a special contract has been signed between the service and the owner of the song, specifying all the conditions under which the music with copyrights of this type can be used. The procedure for using the track describes: the territory of use, the number of audiences, in what form the song can be played, and whether it can be reworked.

When downloading such audio from a music exchange site, all of this information is indicated, and if even one condition does not coincide with the terms of the license agreement, the track will not be able to be downloaded.

When including a track in your media content, it is important to accurately indicate authorship in the credits and/or description.

How to Get the Rights to a Music Content

When buying the copyright to a song from a musician you know, it's important to execute the deal legally correctly. There are the following ways to transfer the rights to legally use audio content:

  • Concluding a licensing agreement. It specifies the period during which it is valid, in which territory the composition can be played and where it can be used (only for clips in social networks or placed in the media).
  • Conclusion of a contract of alienation of rights. This contract implies the alienation of all rights to the track.

If there is no possibility to contact the owner of the rights to the composition personally, it is possible to conclude an agreement with RAO and WIPO, according to which it is required to pay remuneration to the author through the companies.