Song Copyright Protection

How Can You Know If a Song Is under Copyright Protection?

Online Legal India LogoBy Online Legal India Published On 10 Nov 2022 Category Copyright

You're unsure whether playing music at your place of business will infringe on anyone's copyright, despite your desire to do so. You are aware that some music is free to download and that most music needs to be licenced before being played in a professional context.

To start with, in the United States, copyright protection is a given for all recently created works of intellectual property. This covers things like a completed book manuscript or a song that has been recorded, whether it was done professionally or at home.

It takes 70 years after the author's passing before the performing rights to this work are transferred to another person.

Additional rights are assumed when a third entity, like a recording studio, manages the song's publication. It's best to consider a song is copyrighted if you hear it for the first time.

However, some tracks are available for free or a one-time purchase to download. You can find these by carrying out a search that is specific to the licence or domain.

You should presume that the song is copyrighted and that you will have to pay royalties or a licencing fee to use it if you can't locate any information to the contrary.

What is it that makes music applicable under copyright protection?

By giving them the exclusive legal right to utilise their copyright protection literary work in any way they see proper, copyrighting music serves to protect the original author's ideas. Before anybody else can use the song, the rights holder must first provide a licence, typically for a charge.

Is there copyright protection for every song?

Beware: copyright laws essentially cover all music. However, the most important aspect in deciding the degree to which you are subject to any restrictions is how you use that music.

A song or musical composition can, nevertheless, occasionally be utilised without the author's permission.

Free and open-source music

Anyone can use music that is in the public domain without having to pay any royalties. The following items are regarded to be works of music that belong in the public domain:

  • The song was developed before copyright regulations existed (The first copyright act was created in Britain in 1710).
  • 50–70 years following the author's passing (depending on the country).
  • Any works created before 1978 for which the creators have not renewed their copyrights. Do not neglect to browse the materials assembled by the Public Domain Information Project.

Free and open-source musical works

It is free to use music that has been made available under a Creative Commons licence. To prevent copyright infringement, however, there are restrictions and recommendations for appropriate usage that must be followed.

Royalty-free music

What is "royalty-free music"? With a royalty-free licence, you can use music under copyright protection in anyway you like without having to haggle over licencing costs with the Performance Rights Organizations (PROs).

It usually costs money to use music that doesn't require royalties to be paid. The tune can be used endlessly after a single licencing price is paid (usually through a subscription to a company like Artlist).

Using licenced royalty-free music in your videos offers numerous advantages over using tunes that are in the public domain or that are covered by a Creative Commons licence.

  • Excellent quality.
  • There is a wider selection from which to choose.
  • A faster search interface with an improved user experience.

Before choosing a royalty-free platform, check the tiny print because not all of them have the same licence restrictions (more on that later on)

Remember that you require permission before using any song that is covered by copyright protection regulations. Without permission, you might be breaking the law if you use it.

When is it acceptable to use music under copyright protection?

You can utilise music that is copyrighted under the following minimal conditions without violating the rights of the original author:

  • If the video you're creating is only for your own personal use and you don't intend to sell it, you don't need a licence.
  • Only if you have permission to use a particular piece of music.
  • You don't need permission to play a video in class, express an opinion about it, or parody it if you fall within the category of "fair use."

Finally, be sure you understand what parody is all about. For instance, the movie studio MGM sued Honda in 1995 for copyright infringement when the latter used the James Bond name for commercial purposes without authorization. Honda argued that their use of the moniker was satirical and so permitted under the fair use concept.

Be sure to utilise the term "parody" if you intend to use the property. The court rejected Honda because the film did not mock the James Bond brand. You can make your own assessment.

You cannot utilise another person's work without that person's consent. Here is a straightforward, step-by-step tutorial to assist you in figuring out whether music falls under copyright protection.

What are the penalties for the unauthorised use of music under copyright protection?

The issue with copyright protection for music in India is typically not whether they exist, but rather what they cover or how restrictive they are. Whether or not a country can access the video is made explicit by YouTube.

The rights holders for the music reserve the right to change their minds and request the removal of any videos that contain the song. If musical compositions are used without permission, a copyright protection strike may be issued.

The audio and playback of your video may be disabled by YouTube. It's possible to see disclaimers like "This video contains sounds that the proper rights holders did not clear.

Copyright sound recording devices have all been disabled. If you have the authorisation to use the song in question, you can refute the claim using your YouTube account.

If you use music under copyright protection, you also won't be able to charge for the video. If the copyright holder determines that your song-featured YouTube video falls under the category of "ad-supported music," it may elect to show adverts in exchange for payment.

You bear the risk of missing out on fresh plays or increasing foot traffic. Obtaining some music that is royalty-free is therefore typically the simplest course of action.


Hopefully, you are now better prepared to identify music that is subject to copyright protection. Always consider your options and abide by the rules.

Do some investigation to determine the legitimacy of the music in your video. Using a piece that doesn't demand money for use is the greatest approach to staying out of legal trouble.

The qualified professionals of Online Legal India can help you determine whether a song is under copyright protection or not. You can also apply for copyright registration if you own any music.

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