What Qualifies as Copyright Infringement Music?

Copyright infringement is a serious issue that can get you in legal trouble. That is why it is best to learn as much as you can about copyright infringement and stay vigilant while creating content to share on social media.

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Snapmuse Published: Sep 27, 2022 Updated: Jul 17, 2023 9 min read

Copyright Infringement

If you are a content creator, you must have heard the term copyright infringement at least once. In plain language, copyright infringement is a law violation you must avoid at all costs since it can cost you a fortune.

In order to make sure that you don’t commit copyright infringement, you must first learn what it exactly is. If the legal language confuses you, worry not! We have a detailed, easy to follow guide below to get you up to speed on copyright infringement.

If you have a YouTube channel, Instagram account, Twitch channel or TikTok account on which you share content regularly, you must pay great attention to copyright infringement. If you share copyrighted material on one of these platforms, you instantly violate their community guidelines. In order to avoid serious copyright infringement lawsuits, social media platforms make sure that no copyrighted material circulates without the explicit permission by its owner. That is why they have strict rules and community guidelines that bans copyrighted content. Moreover, they have state of the art algorithms that can detect the use of copyrighted music. 

If a user incorporates copyrighted music into their content, the copyright protection algorithm of these social media platforms can detect it almost instantly. Then the user gets a warning and their content is taken down, muted, or disqualified from monetization. If the user uses copyrighted music again in their content, the platform can ban the user temporarily or permanently. That is why top content creators, influencers and streamers pay utmost attention to the music they use. 

Highest earning content creators opt for using non copyright music to avoid any copyright infringement issue. They use royalty free music as podcast background music or music for edit video. If you want to create engaging videos, streams, podcasts or TikToks without worrying about copyright infringement, visit our comprehensive open source music and non copyright music library. You can browse by mood, genre, and artist to find the perfect music for your content without spending hours searching. Discover now!

What is copyright infringement in music?

Artists are inspired by one another, this is how art works! Yet in order to protect the rights of artists, performers, song writers, and producers, we need to draw the line at some point and define what constitutes copyright infringement and what constitutes an innocent spark of inspiration.

If you are a musician, producer, or online content creator who shares their videos on social media platforms, you must know copyright law very well. If all the legal talk and terminology confuses you, worry not! We are here to offer a clear and easy to understand explanation of copyright law, copyright infringement and ways to avoid it. 

In a nutshell, copyright infringement means using someone’s artistic work without their permission, knowledge, or compensation. Section 501 of United States Copyright Act defines infringement clearly and sets its boundaries so if you get confused at any point or need legal proof to support your claim, make sure that you check this law out. It says: “copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner”. Thus, copying an album, playing a copyrighted song in public (such as in your Twitch streams or live sessions on Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok), using a copyrighted track in your videos (such as your YouTube videos, Instagram reels or stories, TikToks, YT Shorts and such) constitutes a violation if you don’t get a permission from the owner. 

Knowing the law protects you in two ways: It helps you avoid getting in trouble with copyright owners and it allows you to protect your own artwork from copyright infringement.

In addition to Section 501 of the United States Copyright Act, the Congress also passed the Music Modernization Act in 2018. It was the very first major legal regulation since 1976. Together these two acts strictly define copyright infringement and protect the rights of copyright owners.

What qualifies as copyright infringement music?

As defined by the Section 501 of the United States Copyright Act and the Music Modernization Act, any use, performance, and distribution of the copyrighted music without the explicit approval of the copyright owner constitutes a copyright infringement.

In plain words, using a copyrighted song in your YouTube, Instagram, TikTok videos, podcasts, Twitch streams, live streams, or advertisement materials is copyright infringement and can get you in legal trouble. 
In addition, performing a copyrighted song in your streams can also be considered as copyright infringement so you must be very vigilant if you don’t want to lose your social media account and followers while having to pay a significant fee.

In order to protect themselves, social media platforms have very strict rules and regulations regarding the use of copyrighted materials. While creating an account on these platforms, you agree to a set of community guidelines, so they are binding as long as you have your account. 
If you share a video where you use copyrighted song on these platforms, their state of the art detection algorithms make notice of your illegal use. Then the platform sends you a warning and either removes or mutes your video. In some instances, YouTube disqualifies such videos from monetization so you cannot make money off of them even though you allowed advertisements in your video. 

If you keep using copyrighted songs in your videos or streams, social media platforms can ban you temporarily or permanently. Thus if your main source of income is your social media account, you must be very careful with the music you use.

Can I use 30 seconds of copyrighted music?

No, not really! There is a very common misconception online that you can use 5, 10, 15 or 30 seconds of a copyrighted music track without committing copyright infringement. Yet this is very far from the truth! 

If the song you want to use is a copyrighted music track and you don’t have permission from the owner, you cannot use any part of that song for any purpose. Using only 5 seconds of a copyrighted song is the same as using the entirety of it: You will be committing copyright infringement. 

If you want to use a short duration of the song, you will still need to ask for the permission of the copyright owner. Moreover, you will also need to pay for each time you use, play, or perform that song. 

If you don’t want to deal with this hassle or pay for each and every time you use a music track, you can opt for using non copyrighted, royalty free tracks. You purchase these songs once and gain the right to use it any way, any number of times you want. From commercial projects to personal projects, you can use non copyrighted songs freely without committing copyright infringement. 

You can use royalty free, non copyrighted songs in your YouTube videos, Instagram posts, TikToks, Twitch streams, advertisements, vlogs, podcasts and so much more. After you purchase the non copyrighted, royalty free song you want to use, you can use it in one or many videos and projects. 

If you are looking for songs you can use in your videos, take a closer look at our royalty free song library here on Snapmuse. You can browse by genre, mood, and artist to find exactly what you are looking for.

What is considered copyright music?

If you haven’t downloaded the song you want to use from a non copyrighted music library like Snapmuse, there is high chance that it is copyrighted! 

Most songs are copyrighted –even the classical music tracks! Although the majority of the classical music tracks are in public domain, their recordings are copyrighted. As you might have noticed, copyright of music has two levels: One is regarded to the composition itself and the other is regarded to the performance. Even though the composition is in fair use or public domain, using the specific performance of a song in your videos or podcasts often requires the permission of the copyright owner. 

If you are not sure about the copyright status of the track you want to use, you can use online tools and various websites to check. On PDInfo website, you can check if the song you want to use is in public domain. You can also use copyright.gov to see if the song you are after is copyrighted. 

How much of a song can be used without violating copyright?

None! Copyright laws protect the entirety of songs: From beginning to the end. That is why using 5, 10, 15 or 30 seconds of a copyrighted song still constitutes a copyright infringement and has serious legal ramifications. That is why you must be very careful with the music you use in your content.
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