What are the "rules" for using popular music in your promo videos?

by Rachel Embry 8 replies
What are the "rules" regarding using music in your videos?

I want to make a "motivational" video and send it to my list & I'm wondering what the rules are when using a song by a famous musician?

When I go on YouTube, I see homemade videos all the time using other people's songs...people make their own videos to the song. Is this allowed??

I don't want to get in trouble for doing something illegal...I just want to use a semi-popular song and overlay it with my own photos & video clips.

Allowed or not?

#main internet marketing discussion forum #music #popular #promo #rules #videos
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  • Profile picture of the author khanarms
    Yes, it is illegal. The reason many people get away with it is because it is not worth it for the copyright holder to go after them. You on the other side are a sueable entity and furthermore you will use the music for commercial purposes, so you can definately get sued. However, the worst that's probably going to happen is have the record companies make you take your videos down. They won't agree to spend a lot of money to sue you unless it is going to be worth their time and money.
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  • Do a Google search for "fair use". Under certain circumstances, it is perfectly legal to use it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jesus Perez
    The music cannot be a significant part of the video.

    For example, a slideshow that plays a song from beginning to end, or plays 50% of the song with rotating pictures is illegal.

    On the other hand, the video of a guy in a bar crying while "November Rain" plays in the background on a jukebox is pretty ok (though Axl will probably sue you anyways to keep those braids fresh). In this case, it sets a mood for the character's development.

    Hope this helps a bit. Here's a great source:

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    • Profile picture of the author jboyd
      I have posted about75 videos on both YouTube and Google Video in the past year. Insignificant, personal, fun videos. Often times I have used music in the background. Lets face it, our lives are much more interesting with a good soundtrack :-)

      So I tell you that to tell you this. About once a week for the past year, Google has sent me a notice that they have discovered one of my videos doe not have proper permissions and removes them from their server :-( My stuff is really dangerous, you know, things like my niece's Hannah Montana birthday party, or me and a buddy on a whitewater or mtn bike ride Example: We can't have those things out there floating around with popular music on them. Good Grief!

      Funny thing is, I have never had a YouTube taken down. Just Google.

      Good Luck
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  • Profile picture of the author Rachel Embry
    LOL about the Axl comment!

    I used to have such the crush on him back in "the day".

    Now......not so much.....lol
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  • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
    Hi Rachel

    This web site may be of interest to you:

    They state:
    "There are no sound recordings in the Public Domain in the USA. If you need a sound recording - even a recording of a public domain song - you will either have to record it yourself or license one."

    I learned something too!!
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  • Profile picture of the author Melkor
    But why bother, when you can go to Incompetech and use his Creative Commons releases completely legally? Kevin MacLeod makes varied music that will probably suit your needs and if you don't find what you want when browsing his library by mood or genre, you can make your video and have him score it for you.

    Mashups or alternate music videos to popular songs, mix tapes and whatnot are a whole other grey area - some of it skate the line but are creative works, some are derivative works, and some of it is so far over the line it's only the lack of ROI for the copyright holder that keeps the offender out of a court. But in general, it's safe to assume that if it isn't explicitly licensed to you specifically (or you license it through the general ASCAP agreement) you're not allowed to use it.

    I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on the 'net though - if you want specific legal advice on a particular situation, get an opinion from an actual lawyer.
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    • Profile picture of the author khanarms
      I'm have studied the music business extensively and will tell you that there is no such thing as
      "fair use" for music or for most other content. If it is someone elses and you use it as part of your own creation it is illegal, unless you have their permission or a license to use the music, pictures, text, whatever. A slight exception is works in the public domain. For example Bachs 5 sonnata or whatever is in the public domain and can be used or recorded by anyone. However, if you use a recording of the 5 sonnata by the San Franciso Philharmonic, then you need to obtain permission from them, because you are using work that was recorded by them.
      But again, the chances of you actually getting caught and sued are very slim, unless of course you make a lot of money through this.
      If you do it for your own entertainment purposes the worst that can happen is that the lawyers of the record company send you a cease and desist or the host takes your video down.
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