Read This Before Using Copyright Free Music In Your Marketing Video

Is copyright free music a good choice for small business marketing videos?

MikS MusicThese days, many video makers are searching the Web for free music to use in their YouTube videos. In response to the demand, many YouTube channels and Web sites started offering what they call “copyright free music”. While it may seem that free “no copyright” music is no-brainer, let’s see what “copyright free” really means and if it is indeed such a good choice for small business marketing videos.

Photo by Sam Teigen / Flikr

Why so many YouTubers are looking for copyright free music?

Mostly, due to the desire to obtain free background music for their videos and not get punished by YouTube for it. Let me explain.

YouTube employs a robust technology, called Content ID, to prevent unauthorized use of copyrighted music in uploaded videos. If you use copyrighted / commercial music in your videos, YouTube will detect it and issue a copyright claim against your video. As a result, your video may display third-party ads, or in some cases get muted or even removed for good. Repeated offenders can get their channels shut down with little chance of appeal.

Trying to avoid their channels compromised by copyright violations, many YouTube video makers are looking to use background music that isn’t tracked by the Content ID system and, thus, won’t trigger the copyright claims.

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Is “copyright free” music really copyright free?

As a matter of fact, “copyright-free” is a misnomer, because regardless of how the music is distributed and licensed, the creator retains his or her copyright on the material until it expires (usually many years after either the author death or the date of publication). Furthermore, many legal system expressly forbid the authors to surrender the rights automatically conferred by law.

In today’s YouTube lingo, “copyright free” usually refers to freely downloadable music that isn’t tracked by YouTube’s Content ID system, either directly or via a technology partner like AdRev.

In turn, that means that any YouTuber can use these music tracks in their videos without getting copyright claims (at least in theory).

Is it safe to use “copyright free” music in corporate marketing videos?

When it is safe to use free music for marketing video infographicGenerally speaking, for any business related video projects you should treat “copyright free” music as any other free music, that is, with caution. See the infographic in this post or read Is It Safe to Use Free Music in Corporate Marketing Videos? for more details.

Here are two simple questions to ask yourself:

a) Am I getting the music from someone who is duly authorized to distribute it?

b) If YouTube flags my video for copyright violation, do I have any proof that I have the right to use it?

Does “copyright free” music help preventing YouTube’s copyright claims?

youtube adrev copyright noticeIf  you’re looking for sure-fire protection against YouTube copyright claims, just grabbing a free tune from one of the places claiming it’s “copyright free” won’t be enough.

Ironically, many YouTubers who opted for “copyright free” music  to avoid YouTube copyright issues, end up with copyright claims and third-party ads showing in their videos.

Why? It could be the owner eventually decides to monetize on his free music or it could be someone simply uploading somebody else’s music without any authorization from the rights holder.

copyright free music issuesThere are new “copyright free” music channels appearing on YouTube almost daily. Sadly, many are nothing more than click-bait using creative commons and indie music to monetize on video plays.

I won’t be too surprised if their plan is to build up the audience by giving away “free” music and then turn on the monetization when they feel their music appears in enough YouTube videos.

Pick your music licensing sources carefully

Another risk you need to consider is that many YouTube channels that offer free and “copyright free” music are often short-lived, as they not necessarily represent the musicians whose music they distribute. Thus, if you end up with a copyright claim on your video for using “free” music, you’ll have nobody to contact to retract the claim.

copyright free music
A reliable music licensing source? I don’t think so

attention-redYour best protection against YouTube copyright claims is the formal license from the rights holder that grants you explicit rights to use given musical work on YouTube.

copyright free music issueWith proper license you can either dispute the claim with YouTube or contact the party who gave you the license to retract the claim.

For instance, all MikS Music music licenses are accompanied by the invoice / confirmation email and cover YouTube commercial use.If you license my music and use it in a YouTube video, I guarantee to retract copyright claims within 24 hours.

More: How to Resolve AdRev For The Third Party Copyright Claims on YouTube

Alternatives for small business video marketers

Free is good, no argument here. However, while getting an occasional free tune may be just fine for a casual uploader, you definitely need more reassurance for your promotional marketing videos.

It’s perfectly safe to use copyrighted music on YouTube, as long as you obtain the permission from the copyright holder.

Some of the alternatives are:

  1. Negotiate with an independent (indie) artist.
  2. If you have the budget, negotiate with the publisher if you’re looking to license commercial music.
  3. License production / stock music from a music library / composer. Royalty free music will fall under this option as well. Feel free to listen to my music available for licensing online.

Furthermore, for any corporate business use make sure your understand the licensing terms completely. For instance, if you plan to use the music for marketing your products or services on YouTube, you need to look for music explicitly cleared for commercial YouTube use.

Have a music licensing question?

Post your question on my Google, Twitter, or Facebook pages or join my Google+ community: Music Licensing Questions.

Looking for music for YouTube marketing  videos?

Listen to my top 20 best selling royalty free music tracks

download unlimited royalty-free music for personal commercial use

About author

I'm Mik and I make background music for business and marketing use, corporate video, YouTube monetization channels, and short films. I offer my clients - small business owners, video marketers, and media creators - affordable and professional background music with flexible licensing terms. Download my music from the online catalog of ready-to-use soundtracks or contact me to have one created exclusively for your project. See who uses my music

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One thought on “Read This Before Using Copyright Free Music In Your Marketing Video

  1. Very useful article. Thank you!

    I did just have one question.

    As a dancer, the use of non-royalty free music for various purposes is pretty much a given.
    However, if I were to say create an online course where I instruct people or demonstrate how to dance, are there any resources that would allow for this type of use of a musical recording?

    It seems royalty-free can be used for commercial use if it is explicitly stated in a promotional campaign, but if the music is being used in a video within a course that is clearly commercial and profitable in nature, do the same rules apply?

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