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Music Copyright, Fair Use & Public Access Media

  • Gabe Castro
  • |
  • July 22, 2019

Can you use a few seconds of licensed music in your productions?

Are you looking to use some music on your program and wondering what the laws are around fair use and using popular music? Have you found a song that truly encapsulates your show’s theme and you were hoping to use just ten seconds of the tune for your intro? 

If you’re wondering if there are certain rules around use of copyrighted music that will protect you from any legal ramifications then the short and sweet answer to this question is no, there are not. You cannot use music that you do not have rights to. You cannot use the creative work of another individual without their permission. 

A common misconception with music use is this rumor that you can use music as long as the sound clip is under 10 seconds or as long as you give credit to the artist in your credits.

There is no 10-second rule on copyrighted music. You cannot simply use small portions of copyrighted music under fair use laws.

Not for profit or hobby-based media are not exempt from copyright laws. There is no non-profit exception to the copyright laws.

Giving attribution to the creator does not give you the right to redistribute their work. Attribution is common courtesy, which you should do AFTER you have the legal right to use the copyrighted material.

PhillyCAM has subscribed to a music service that gives our members access to music that they can use on their productions called OmniMusic. For more information on how to access this resource please email Jeff@phillycam.org

What is copyright and why does it matter? (Provided by CreativeCommons.org)

Copyright law grants exclusive rights to creators of original works of authorship. On the internet, even the most basic activities involve making copies of copyrighted content. As content is increasingly uploaded, downloaded, and shared online, copyright law is becoming more relevant to more people than it was 20 years ago. Unfortunately, infringing copyrights—even unintentionally or unknowingly—can lead to liability. Successful navigation of the internet requires some understanding of copyright law.

What is the public domain?

The public domain of copyright refers to the aggregate of those works that are not restricted by copyright within a given jurisdiction. Work may be part of the public domain because the applicable term of copyright has expired because the rights holder surrendered copyright in the work with a tool like CC0, or because the work did not meet the applicable standards for copyrightability.


Here are some free resources for music. Be sure to give the artists attribution in your credits. These are fair use.





More information on Fair Use.