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Thread: Using Popular Music - Fair use?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Northumberland, England

    Thumbs up Using Popular Music - Fair use?


    Is it allowed to use popular music, which is obviously copyrighted, in making a video?
    I am making my second natural history documentary, just for personal use and to display on YouTube for others to see. It is mainly a way to teach myself skills.

    I have read about a "fair use" policy. Does this come under that?


  2. #2



    If you are using a very short amount of the track say 5% of total duration in the U.S fair use could be a possibility.
    However sorry to say it but my personal opinion is no..... it isn't worth the risk ...... copyright is a real grey area

    I have looked into this for previous personal projects including clips from movies too.

    maybe try Musopen or public domain music or buy some

    That's my advice

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Northumberland, England


    Exactly what I thought ! I knew this was a stupid question and a stab in the dark!

    I will stick to royalty free music, as a photographer I don't want people ripping off my photographs so I sympathise with the musicians too.

  4. #4


    Not stupid at all ....... I asked the very same questions.

    You are very wise and your comparison is a good one....

    I know it is a real pain and very tempting...

    Good for you

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Blog Entries


    There are 3 possible outcomes to using copyright music on YouTube:

    1) nothing happens
    2) your video is automatically flagged as containing copyright music (for which there is no licence) and the audio is striped
    3) you get fined

    With consideration of proportionality, 1 and 2 are the most likely scenarios. This should not be considered as legal advice.

  6. #6


    This is also not professional legal advice. YouTube have there own licencing agreement with the music industry and will simply flag your video as containing copyright material and put a link to the itunes download and an advert on the video. It may also not be playable in some countries, especially Germany. This is providing you are not making any money from the video like being a YouTube partner etc...

    Unless it just has to be that particular piece of music for that section of the video I would look for royalty free music. There is a shed load of it out there on the webbynet.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    If it's for personal use, you can obtain a licence from the IAC (you'd also have to join the IAC but we love new members !) See here for details. It appears to cover YouTube (I've certainly read that it does) but not other online sites. You can also show it at a limited number of public shows.
    If you do join the IAC please let me know as our club can get a small donation for every new member introduced.

  8. #8


    As well as the outcomes listed by Marc losing your you tube account is another .....not a major issue though .......

    Very interesting info by the way Tim

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