Infringing copyright can lead to some serious legal penalties, so being aware of copyright rules and regulations is incredibly important.

We’ve made it simple by breaking down the basic things to consider when working with any type of copyrighted content – but more specifically to cater to those looking to use copyrighted musical content as background music in their videos, films, or any kind of motion picture.

So, let’s start with the basics.

What is copyright?

Literally speaking, copyright means ‘the right to copy’.

More specifically, copyright is the legal means of protecting a creator’s work. It’s a type of intellectual property that gives exclusive rights to the copyright holder to publicize, distribute, and to use copyrighted content.

So again, in simple terms – it’s ‘the right to copy’. The copyright holder is the only one that’s allowed to ‘copy’ her/his content – unless permission has been given otherwise. However, this only applies to commercial use. As in, if you are going to use someone else’s copyrighted content in a way that will be monetized at all, you need to attain permission from the copyright holder. Usually, this is done via a licensing fee.

So basically, if you use some one’s creative work, commercially, you need permission from the original creator (aka the copyright holder).

What can be copyrighted?

Any creative and original work can be copyrighted. Some examples are:

  • Music: both the actual music itself, and the lyrics
  • Sound Recordings: any kind of recording- be it music, dialogue, nature, etc.
  • Videos & Motion Pictures: videos, movies, films etc.
  • Literature: books, novels, poems, articles, essays, speeches, etc.
  • Blueprints: architectural blueprints for example.
  • etc.

What does commercial use mean?

Commercial use means using copyrighted content in a way that is directly or indirectly monetizing a business or an individual. For example, using music in an advertisement or movie would be considered ‘commercial use’. On the other hand, a personal video made of personal life events (such as a holiday vacation, a birthday) to be shared with friends and family on personal social media is not considered commercial use.

How do I use copyrighted background music for my video legally?

In order to find background music for your video without infringing copyright laws, you need to make sure you have permission from the copyright holder.

The best way to do this is by using a royalty free music library. Royalty free music libraries (What is royalty free music?) make it incredibly easy for you to find the perfect background song for your video, to license it, and to use it legally and free of copyright infringement. All at the click of a button.

What happens if I don’t follow copyright rules and regulations?

Copyright infringement (what is copyright infringement?) can lead to serious legal penalties; it could lead to a business being closed down, being faced with heavy fines, or even some serious jail time.

When it comes to getting permission to use music as background music in your film, it’s incredibly important to go about it the legal way to avoid serious penalties. Also, doing it legally means you are supporting the hard work of musicians, and content creators- allowing them to continue doing what they’re doing.

Do musicians need to register their songs for it to be copyrighted?

Contrary to popular belief, no, you don’t have to register your content for it to be copyright. It can allow you to gain more protections of copyright law- but you don’t need to register it.

Copyright is a cool type of intellectual property because you don’t need to officially register something as copyrighted- or at least more specifically when it comes to music. Upon creation, your project is already legally considered as copyrighted.

The process of registering your content differs from country to country and is almost impossible in certain countries. To copyright, in most countries, it’s done as follows.

First, you would need to have your song recorded in a ‘tangible’ or touchable medium – as in, have an audio recording of it somewhere. Second, you would register with an account at your local copyright office website. Third, you would fill out a copyright registration application. Fourth, you would pay a fee. Fifth, you would submit a copy of your song. Finally, wait for the registration process to be completed.

Officially registering your copyright content can help you gain more protections from the law, but it is not required; upon completion of your original creation, your content is automatically considered as copyrighted!