Stealing or Sharing: are you breaking the law?

We created this video with the band Lion Babe to promote the new Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Music.

We created this video with the band Lion Babe to promote the new Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Music. This video combines royalty free music and 30 seconds of Lion Babes’ original tracks; which inspired us to write this article about music rights.

A problem a lot of individuals and businesses encounter is that they use music without realising they are doing anything wrong. Unfortunately you could be breaking the copyright law and unfamiliarity doesn’t hold up as an excuse in court.

So, what is copyright?

The copyright law is fully know as the ‘Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988’ and is an automatic right that protects an individual or companies original, skilful work. The easiest way to work out whether you are breaking the copyright law, is to know the difference between stealing and sharing.

An example of sharing is finding a song you like on YouTube and posting the video to your Twitter page. This is absolutely fine, the emphasis here is on the link back to the digital piece of work. The artist still retains the digital copy and you are just simply sharing a way to find it. Stealing is when you download that song from YouTube, and upload it directly on to your own channel or on to your own piece of work. This removes the artists ability to monetise it. If you want to use somebody else’s music for your own work you will need to obtain the music rights

How do you obtain music rights?

Unfortunately, music rights are not easy to get hold of. The label owns the sound recording, and the publisher works on behalf of the composer and songwriter. Which means you’ll need to at least obtain rights from the publisher and label, and there could be even more parties involved. Sometimes it can be difficult to chase down the right person and depending on what song you want to use, how you want to use it, and how much you want to use, you might find the cost is very high.

So, what are some other options?

We recommend using royalty free music. Royalty free music, will normally be an instrumental, created by one artist. Rights for the music can easily be brought from specialised sites. We use audiojungle.net and premiumbeat.com. Rights can be brought from $17 — $70 but additional fees might be required. Each site will have some stipulations about the way in which you can use their music, so be sure to read the type of license they grant.

When don’t you need rights?

You don’t need to be granted rights for work that is of the public domain. This includes any music that was published before 1922. You would think this would include ‘Happy Birthday’, it does not… do not use it. There are some acts within the copyright law that are permitted to a certain degree as long as they fall under a concept known as ‘fair dealing’.

Permitted acts include:

* Private and research study purposes.
 * Performance, copies or lending for educational purposes.
 * Criticism and news reporting.
 * Copies and lending by librarians.
 * Format shifting or back up of a work you own for personal use.
 * Caricature, parody or pastiche.
 * Acts for the purpose of royal commissions, statutory enquiries, judicial proceedings and parliamentary purposes.

Make sure you are 100% sure what you created falls under ‘fair dealing’ before hosting a video. YouTube and other video hosting sites do not have the right to decide when something comes under ‘fair dealing’. Only a court can decide, meaning you will still have to go to court and possibly pay a fine.

Let’s end on some myths:

“You can use 30 seconds of somebody else’s music”
 Wrong, you can’t even use 1 second without rights.

“If you write a disclaimer crediting the artist you aren’t violating their copyright”
 Sorry, but you are still violating copyright laws, just saying you are doesn’t exempt you.

“I know the band, and they have said I can use their music.”
 That doesn’t mean they have the right to do so. Check with their record label, because many band members don’t have the right to issue the correct licenses you’ll need but they might be able to pull some strings.

“I use music all the time, nobody ever contacted me.”
 The internet is a big place, just because you have been caught yet doesn’t mean you aren’t violating copyright. The longer you benefit from somebody else’s work, the harsher the penalty will be when you are eventually caught. Also, please don’t just use a song and wait for someone to contact you. We have a duty to be respectful to artists.

“I bought the song, therefore I own it.”
 Buying the song does not give you the right to use the song. This is not about ownership, it’s about artistic use of that song in another form of art.

Understanding the copyright law is really important before you start creating videos, and hopefully this article has made the process clearer. If you have any more questions about music rights email hannah@doubleshot.tv or tweet us: @doubleshottv


Originally published at doubleshot.tv.