Social Media & The Law: A Copyright Infringement Lesson for YouTubers, IGers and Facebookers!

I see this all the time and I shake my head.

Have you ever uploaded a video to YouTube, Facebook or Instagram which features music or has music playing in the background, and you placed in the caption: “I do not own the rights to the song in this video”? I am assuming that you placed this in your caption to avoid being sued for copyright infringement.

Ah, unfortunately- this short statement carries no legal weight and you may actually be further harming yourself by boldly announcing to the world that you do not own the rights to a song which you have no permission to use.

Imagine taking your neighbor’s Mercedes Benz sedan without permission and driving it to the coffee shop. She reports the car as stolen to the cops. The cops find you and pull you over while you’re driving back home from the coffee shop. You tell the cops: “I do not own this car.” You do not own the car. You did not get permission to take the car. So, you stole the car?

Alright, I’m sure you get it now!

So, YES- despite having the “I do not own the rights to this song” statement- a copyright infringement claim and/or lawsuit can still be brought against you.

Here is why:

In order to use someone’s copyrighted material, you need permission. According to the United States Copyright Office’s website, “as a general matter, 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.”

So, you’re using the copyrighted material? ....Without permission?.... RED FLAG! If you’re using the song without permission, you may have already violated copyright law and therefore, having that statement in your caption is of no use to you.

I’m sure that you’re now wondering how you can seriously protect yourself from copyright claims and/or lawsuits being brought against you.

1) Find Royalty- Free Music online. A simple Google search can reveal hundreds of websites that offer royalty-free music.

2) Use music from Facebook's Sound Collection. According to Facebook, "The Sound Collection gives you access to thousands of high-quality audio tracks and sound effects from all over the world to spice up your videos. These sounds are owned by Facebook, and are free and clear to use in any video you create and share on Facebook and Instagram."

3) Use music from the YouTube Music Policies section which is in the Creator Studio. This section contains a list of songs for which YouTube has license agreements with the copyright holders. However, some restrictions may exist. These include: the copyright holder running ads on your video to monetize the use of the music OR geographical restrictions that may result in the song being blocked in certain countries.

4) Use Music from YouTube’s free Audio Library which is in the Creator Studio. You can use the YouTube Audio Library to get royalty- free music and sound effects to use in your videos. For more information:

There are some other exceptions under the Fair Use doctrine that we can discuss in another post. However, I hope that you found this one helpful.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post should be not be construed as legal advice.
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