How Can I Legally Use Copyrighted Music On YouTube? (2023)

YouTube, Facebook, and even Twitch have begun to really crack the whip on copyright infringement. Whether it’s Content ID or DMCA strikes, video platforms are no longer the Wild West that they were even two years ago.

A common question for content creators that are just starting out on YouTube is, “How can I legally use copyrighted music on YouTube?” The truth is that you won’t find any shortcuts or hacks out there — that’s the kind of stuff that lands you in legal trouble. (And who wants to deal with a $100,000 fine for copyright infringement?)

The truth is that the only way to protect yourself is to get familiar with music licensing. That way, you’ll know just how you can legally use copyrighted music in your YouTube videos.

How does music licensing work for videos?

Music licensing might seem complicated, but it’s not really that scary...assuming you aren’t a pirate looking to break the rules. And hopefully once you finish this article, you’ll feel ready to find and use high-quality songs without getting any copyright strikes on your YouTube channel.

To help you get there, let’s start with the absolute basics: What is music licensing?

(Video) how to use COPYRIGHTED MUSIC on YouTube LEGALLY! 👀

How Can I Legally Use Copyrighted Music On YouTube? (1)

At its core, music copyright exists to protect the work of content creators like you. (Only in this case, they are musicians and recording artists and not filmmakers.) And music licensing is the process of getting permission from an artist so you can add their music to your projects.

Think about it this way: Copyright law opens up the door for individuals and companies to license out the work of other people. Your favorite artist writes and records a new song, and then you are able to incorporate that music into your videos.

It’s almost like a process to help creatives collaborate and use each other’s work to make their own stuff better.

How can I legally use copyrighted music on YouTube?

Of course, you didn’t actually write the songs, so you can’t claim ownership of them. If you want to legally use copyrighted music on YouTube, you’ll have to go out and get approval from the original creator in order to use it. That’s the second side of music licensing.

Copyright law makes sure that creators get paid when people use their work — that’s where YouTube’s music policy comes into play. The two halves of YouTube’s system work together, policing video uploads for copyright infringement and providing a place for creators to submit their own copyright claims.

How Can I Legally Use Copyrighted Music On YouTube? (2)

(Video) How to Use Copyrighted Music on YouTube Legally

On one hand, that makes it easier for you. The rules are built into YouTube as a platform, so once you understand the rules, you’ll have the tools to follow them.

But the negative side of that is that YouTube is pretty quick to act if you make a mistake. So if you don’t legally use copyrighted music on YouTube, the system might take down your content, or let someone else monetize your video, or completely block your channel.

What are the steps to license a song?

Artists put their blood, sweat, and tears into creating a song. Record labels invest a lot of money in producing that song. And then legal teams (for the record label) have to protect that song from copyright infringement.

That means a dozen people might have a claim to any individual song. And each person is a partial owner of that song’s copyrights. So if you want to legally use copyrighted music on YouTube, you’ll need permission from everyone who is a copyright holder for that specific song.

Getting a license for a song means you’ll have to reach out to each person on that “copyright holder” list. Then you’ll negotiate a licensing agreement for your project and decide on a price. You might also have to determine royalty payments, which means sending a fraction of your project’s revenue to the copyright holders.

The music licensing process can take a few weeks or a few months, and it’ll run you anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand (depending on how popular the song is).

My guess is that reading that didn’t exactly leave a smile on your face. And when you imagine doing that for every song license for every video project, it’s easy to see how music licensing can snowball into an enormous amount of time, effort, and money.

(Video) Can You Legally Use Copyright Music On YouTube?

But if you want to legally use a recent Billboard 100 hit in your YouTube videos, these are the steps you need to take to protect yourself from copyright infringement.

Is there another way to get music for YouTube?

Thankfully, you do have an alternative to dealing with traditional music licensing procedures.

Youtube royalty free music has quickly become a big trend for filmmakers because it avoids the old-fashioned music licensing model in favor of a process built specifically to get high-quality music into the hands of content creators.

Here’s how it works. A royalty free music company will license a song from an artist, and then they can license it out to content creators for a fraction of the cost. So instead of paying $5,000 for a song, you’ll pay $50 for a license to legally use that song in a specific project.

And since there are no record labels involved, you won’t have to worry about sending a portion of your revenue to copyright holders. You’ll pay for a license once, and that’s it.

(For a more in-depth breakdown of what "royalty free" really means for you as a licensee, check out this blog post.)

Soundstripe is a royalty free music company that’s a little different from other names in the industry. We own every single song in our library, so you won’t find our music anywhere else. That means we can guarantee you won’t have to worry about copyright claims anymore.

(Video) The Rules of Using Music With Copyright on YouTube Videos

More importantly, you’ll have two options on how to license a song. You can either pay for a single song license and use that song in as many projects as you want. Or you can sign up for our subscription plan, which gives you unlimited access to our entire library.

Like I said earlier, there isn't a shortcut to legally use copyrighted music on least, not if you use the traditional music licensing process. Royalty free music offers a different and better way for you to get radio-quality songs for all of your personal and commercial use video projects.

As an added bonus, royalty free music is a more affordable and more convenient option. You’ll get the songs you want for a price you can afford, and you can sleep easy knowing your days of worrying about copyright infringement are gone forever.

Final tips for using royalty free music in YouTube videos

To wrap things up on these questions surrounding royalty free music and copyrighted music on YouTube, the real trick for all of these background music questions comes down to ownership and what type of content you're trying to create.

Sure, you can always use YouTube's audio library or try to find some public domain music for your YouTube channel, but a good YouTube video is one that looks and sounds a certain way. Musicians know this and a good music owner is rarely going to work for free, and any commercial music owner is certainly going to protect their music with a copyright claim.

If you want good copyrighted music on youtube videos you'll need to make the investment and find the best (and easiest) way to compensate music owners for their work. Which is where solutions like Soundstripe come in to help.

So, do your own research into creative commons music and how to find your own tracks in the YouTube video editor, but at the end of the day make the best decision for you and your YouTube videos.

(Video) How to upload COPYRIGHTED Music to Youtube [2022]

How Can I Legally Use Copyrighted Music On YouTube? (3)


How do I use copyrighted music legally? ›

In order to use that recording, you'll need a master use license. Together, a master use license and a sync license will allow you to add your favorite songs to the films and video games you create. The good news is that you don't have to contact famous celebrities directly in order to obtain these licenses.

Can you avoid copyright by giving credit? ›

It's an easy mistake to make. But giving credit by itself does not excuse copying that would otherwise amount to a copyright infringement. Giving credit is good professional practice, but legally it does not excuse unauthorized copying without some kind of permission from the original creator.

How do you avoid copyright issues? ›

Six steps to protect against copyright infringement claims
  1. Do not copy anything. ...
  2. Avoid non-virgin development. ...
  3. Avoid access to prior design work. ...
  4. Document right to use. ...
  5. Negotiate for enhanced warranty and indemnity clauses. ...
  6. Document your own work.

Can I use 10 seconds of a copyrighted song? ›

Any use of copyrighted material without permission is, according to U.S. copyright law, copyright infringement. It does not matter if you use one second or the entire song, using copyrighted materials without the consent or permission of the copyright owner, constitutes copyright infringement.

What popular songs are copyright free? ›

Top Six Most Popular Royalty-Free Songs
  • Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Singers Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer recorded the original version of Take Me Out to the Ball Game in 1908. ...
  • Happy Birthday. ...
  • House of the Rising Sun. ...
  • Rockin' Robin. ...
  • Everybody Loves My Baby. ...
  • That's All Right.

How much of a song is fair use? ›

Fair Use Length Guidelines
Printed Material
For Presentation or ProjectUp to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is shorter
Classroom ListeningAllowed for educational purposes.
For Presentation or ProjectUp to 10% or 30 seconds, whichever is shorter.
20 more rows

How much of a song can you use to avoid copyright? ›

Or merely a ten-second refrain? Unfortunately, there are no fixed standards as to how much of a song you can use without infringing the song owner's copyright. Of course, the shorter you can make the clip, the stronger your argument for fair use protection.

How do you give credit to a song example? ›

Singer's Last Name, Singer's First Name. “Title of the Song.” Title of the Album, album's ed., Publisher, Year of publication, track number.

What do you say to avoid copyright? ›

Give credit to the original copyright owner. Add a disclaimer like “I don't own the rights” or “no infringement intended” Added your own material to the original content.

What words can you not copyright? ›

Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks.

What happens if you ignore copyright? ›

Use of these works without permission (usually in the form of a license) infringes the copyright owner's exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, or make derivative works of the original work. When you infringe on the copyright of an author, the author might choose to file a takedown request under the DMCA.

Will copyright ever go away? ›

The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.

What is fair use for music? ›

What Is Fair Use? Fair use is the right to copy a portion of a copyrighted work without permission because your use is for a limited purpose, such as for educational use in a classroom or to comment upon, criticize, or parody the work being sampled.

What old music is copyright free? ›

The copyright duration of composed music is the same as for books, paintings and other literary and artistic works: the author's lifetime + 70 years. Therefore, the musical compositions of old masters like Beethoven (1770 – 1827) or Mozart (1756 – 1791) are all in the public domain and you can freely use them.

What songs dont get copyrighted? ›

Music in the public domain

If between 50 to 70 years have passed from the author's death (depending on the country) Works created before 1978 whose copyright owners failed to renew their copyrights (which you can research at the U.S. Copyright Office). Be sure to search the Public Domain Information Project as well.

How much is a 3 minute song? ›

A three-minute song would usually be around 80 to 90 bars in total depending on the BPM. Taking into account all types of music, the 'average' song has 108 beats per minute. This then equals around 324 beats for three minutes and 81 beats in a song of this length.

What are the 4 fair use exceptions to copyright? ›

Fair use of copyrighted works, as stated in US copyright law, “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

How do you get around copyright? ›

Making a commercial using a copyrighted song in the background.
These are often called “fair use” exceptions and include the following:
  1. Non-commercial research.
  2. Scholarship.
  3. Private study.
  4. Criticism.
  5. Satire.
  6. Comment.
  7. News Reporting.
21 Jun 2021

How do you write a copyright disclaimer? ›

How to write a copyright disclaimer
  1. the copyright symbol (©);
  2. Your name as author and your website's name. It can also be the name of an organization, a business, or a corporate name;
  3. a current year or year range;
  4. a statement of ownership (“All Rights Reserved”).

What is the shortest time for copyright to last? ›

The difference is that a copyright is only guaranteed a minimum of 25 years of protection based the date of creation - until 2002. If the copyright is subsequently published during this 25-year window, the 25-year period is extended to 70 years.


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3. How to Use Copyrighted Music and Monetize Your Videos! 3 Myths & 3 Tips
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4. How To Legally Use Copyrighted Music, Games, and Movies on YouTube
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5. Legally Use Copyrighted Music on YouTube | Creative Commons & Intellectual Property Basics
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