How to avoid copyright issues in music production

words Al Woods

music copyright

Getting into the music industry can be quite brutal. At first, you don’t think much of it because you are enjoying your dream job –– you’re actually recording, producing, and selling music, and you’re getting paid for it. After a while, though, you start seeing the ugly face of the industry, which entails cutthroat competition and a lot of people claiming you stole their tunes. 

Copyright infringement lawsuits are something that any music producer is accustomed to dealing with, but that doesn’t really make them any easier to handle. 

This is why it is often best to avoid such complications as much as possible. Here’s how you can do that. 

Get the Necessary Permissions  

If you are going to use somebody else’s work, the first thing that you need to do is get the necessary permissions. The music industry is huge, and there are millions of artists and producers, so you might not think you will get caught, but you will, especially if your record sells. You could wake up one day to find yourself hit with a lawsuit because you didn’t get permission from the concerned parties. More importantly, this applies to dead artists, too! A lot of people think that just because the artist is dead, then their work is up for grabs, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Their families and other parties still make a ton of money from royalties, and just because they’re dead doesn’t mean their music is for free. So, always have yourself covered in terms of permissions. 

Don’t Rip Off the Tunes 

avoid copyright issues

Some artists and music producers rip off tunes from others and claim it as their own, which is a sure way to get hit with a lawsuit citing copyright infringement. You can get ideas from other musicians, but never take the music as it is and use it as your own. As you can see if you click here, you will be able to have plenty of audio materials to use in your own production process by using pre-recorded samples and other quality sounds recorded by the experts. That way you will have acquired them from the rightful owners, which helps you avoid any copyright issues in the long run. 

Consult with Lawyers 

If you plan on using a part of someone else’s music, it is always a good idea to consult with a legal expert before taking this step. Copyright laws are huge and they are very intricate with plenty of details that you are bound to miss if you tried understanding them on your own. But a specialized copyright attorney will help you understand if what you’re doing is legal or not. There are certain cases where people take parts out of another artist’s music for criticism or review, and you don’t need a license for that, but rather a small fee for that excerpt. 

Contrary to popular belief, just because you are using that part of music for non-commercial purposes doesn’t necessarily make it ‘fair use’ under copyright laws and regulations. Fair use doesn’t require you to get permission from the copyright holder, but you have to be certain that your case is considered fair use in the first place, which again brings us to the importance of consulting with experienced attorneys first. 

Understand Copyrights 

While the laws might be a bit too technical for you to understand, copyrights aren’t. There are several misunderstandings and misconceptions that a lot of people share in the music industry, and you’d do well to learn those so you can avoid them at all costs. For instance, copyright laws apply to lyrics, not just music, which is something that a lot of people don’t know. If you borrowed a paragraph out of a poem or a book you loved as a kid, descendants of the writer might sue you and force you to pay a lot of money if you neglected to ask for permission. These are the kinds of details that you need to cover and understand if you want to avoid copyright issues. 

You should also know that even uploading a track with copyright infringement to your personal profiles on social media platforms like Facebook or music streaming ones like SoundCloud won’t work. So, even if you’re not using that track for commercial purposes, you might still get into trouble. 

This is why it is always best that you cover your bases and avoid those problems before they happen. Understand copyrights thoroughly and what you’re allowed to do, as well as what you should avoid. It will make things much easier for you in the future; the last thing you need as a rising music producer is a copyright infringement lawsuit.


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