How to use music that is not 100% your original creation. This is a guide to clarify how you can use prerecorded sounds and music in your creations.
If you use prerecorded sounds, compositions or lyrics in your music you need to find out the rights of that content. This is most important if you have any intention of sharing or publishing your music for or not for profit. This is your responsibility to give respect to the original creators to make sure you are using their creations legally. At no time can you use someone else’s creations without their permission or by abiding to the licenses that accompany the content.
Depending how you plan on using the content you would need to clear the content before you use it. Whether it is for a live performance, or composition or sound recording or adding to a video, or use as background music or what have you. Here we will focus on compositions and sound recording and the four different categories of usage rights the content you use may fall in.
Direct music licensing, often referred to as direct licensing, is a process in which music rights holders (usually composers, publishers, or performing rights organizations) grant permission to a music user, such as a business or organization, to use specific musical compositions in their commercial or public activities.
In direct licensing, you typically negotiate with the songwriters, composers, and music publishers directly or through their representatives, rather than with a PRO. It's important to note that the process of direct licensing can be complex, as it involves negotiating individual agreements for each song. These agreements can specify the terms, conditions, and fees for the use of specific songs.
Some content, especially from very popular or famous artists, may be very difficult and expensive to acquire licenses for. Some content may be available on a royalty-free basis provided by a licensor.
Royalty-free music refers to a type of music licensing that allows individuals, businesses, and organizations to use music in their projects or content without the need to pay ongoing royalties or fees for each use. When you purchase a royalty-free music license, you typically pay a one-time fee for the right to use the music within the terms specified by the license. This is in contrast to traditional music licensing, where you might have to pay royalties each time the music is used in a public performance, broadcast, or distribution.
There are services that will act as an intermediary to acquire the permission to license the content with music that is well known. Many of the royalty-free services have a stock catalogue that creators would have access to with a membership.
Loops and samples provided with any Digital Audio Workstation are royalty-free. You can’t sell the loops/samples alone, by themselves, they must be part of some other work. So as long as you're including them with other instruments it's fine.
You need to check the licenses of any content you download from the internet or acquire otherwise. Even if there is no obvious license it doesn’t mean the content is not under copyright.
Creative Commons is a set of copyright licenses that allow creators to specify the permissions granted to others regarding the creative works, such as text, images, music, and more. Creative Commons is a type of Copyleft licensing which retains copyright but enables others to reuse the work with clear standard terms.
Creative Commons licenses make it easier for creators to share their work with the public and specify the conditions under which others can use, remix, and share those works. It's a tool that strikes a balance between copyright protection and openness, fostering a more open and collaborative culture of sharing creative content.
Attribution (CC BY): Allows others to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the work, even for commercial purposes, as long as they give appropriate credit to the original creator.
Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA): Allows for remixing, tweaking, and building upon the work, even for commercial purposes, as long as the new work is released under the same terms and provides proper attribution.
Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND): Permits redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as the work is passed along unchanged and in whole, with proper attribution.
Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC): This license allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes only and requires proper attribution.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA): Allows for remixing, tweaking, and building upon the work for non-commercial purposes, as long as the new work is released under the same terms and provides proper attribution.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND): This is the most restrictive, allowing others to download the works and share them with others as long as they provide proper attribution, but they can't change them in any way or use them for commercial purposes.
Public domain music refers to music, sound recordings or compositions that are no longer protected by copyright and are free for the public to use, share, and distribute without the need for a license or permission from the original copyright owner. When music enters the public domain, it means that the copyright protection has expired, or the creator has voluntarily relinquished their copyright rights, Creative Commons CC0, no copyright.
Copyright protection for creative works is limited in duration. Once the copyright term expires, the music becomes part of the public domain. Copyright terms vary by country but generally last for the lifetime of the composer plus an additional 50 to 70 years. Sound recordings will generally enter the public domain after 70 to 120 years from the date of publication.
Public domain music can be used, modified, performed, recorded, and distributed without any restrictions. There is no need to pay royalties, license fees, or obtain permission from the original composer or their estate. It is available for anyone to use and it can be used for personal or commercial purposes without limitations that can be freely sampled, remixed, or incorporated into new compositions
It's important to note that not all older music is necessarily in the public domain. In some cases, works may still be under copyright due to specific circumstances, such as copyright renewals or extensions. Additionally, new arrangements or recordings of public domain music may have their copyrights for the new version. Therefore, it's advisable to research and confirm the copyright status of specific musical works before using them in your projects, especially if you plan to create derivative works or use recordings made by others.
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