AIR x Epidemic Sound: Partnership + Every Copyright Myth Debunked

Editor’s note: From audio stories to film documentaries to multimedia pieces, your project deserves the perfect music. More specifically: Accessible music and clear licensing processes. A premium Epidemic Sound subscription covers it all. From now until the end of March, Epidemic Sound is offering members of the network a one-year membership at $250, discounted almost 60% from the original price of $600 per year. This subscription will grant storymakers unlimited access to over 25,000 tracks of music and sound effects licensed from musicians and sound designers. Founded in 2009, Epidemic Sound does all the negotiating so that you can select what works for you from their library. When March ends, the promotion will continue with a smaller discount at $400 for a one-year subscription, so grab this bargain while you can!

To launch the collaboration, we’re sharing an article originally published on September 19, 2017 on the Epidemic Sound blog. It tackles six copyright myths that may or may not keep you up at night. While the information provided does not constitute legal advice, it aims to provide a guide for navigating the uneven waters of copyright when scoring your work.

Read on for Epidemic Sound’s insights, then access the AIRsters-only promotion here!

By Alva McNeela

Today, we will clear up some common copyright myths. However, please keep in mind this information should not be constituted as legal advice, it’s just a guide to keep you out of trouble!

Copyright Myth: Once a Musician Dies, their Songs Become Public Domain

There is some truth to this, but the overall myth is false. When a musician dies, their music continues to be copyright protected for an additional 70 years.

Once that time has elapsed, the song does enter the public domain – such is the case with many classical artists like Beethoven or Wagner. However, that just means the composition is public domain.

A band, group or orchestra that performs one of these songs have their own copyright to their version of the song. The song is free for anyone to record, but in order to use someone else’s version you will need to secure the rights to it.

Copyright Myth: Putting “No Copyright Intended” in your Description Protects You

False! Using copyrighted content without having the proper rights is violating copyright law.

While you may not be intending to violate someone’s copyright material, ignorance does not constitute protection. Adding that note, crediting the owner, or other ways of trying to protect yourself does not grant you a license to the content.

The only true way to avoid copyright problems is to not use copyright content unless you have a license to do so.

Copyright Myth: Getting Permission from the Original Owner is Enough

Nope, unfortunately not. While the creator of a song/video may say that you can use it freely, that doesn’t guarantee you can use it forever.

In the future, they may sign a deal and part of that deal is enforcing copyright on their content. Once that happens, retroactively, your videos will violate the copyright regardless of the fact they said you could use it.

You need to have legal proof (in the form of a contract, or at the very least explicitly stated in an email) that the creator has given you the right to use it in perpetuity. Even then, you may need to fight a legal battle.

Copyright Myth: You can use Copyright Free Music Freely

Not true – in fact, copyright free music is available for the explicit purpose of acquiring a license to it. Once you pay a fee, you can use it for whatever you license it for.

After you license a track from Epidemic Sound, you can use it without any additional fees. We give you full monetization and no copyright issues. But, you do need to license it from us first.

Copyright Myth: I can use 15 Seconds or Less

Unfortunately, false. Whether it’s 15 seconds, 8 seconds or 1 second, the amount of time you use does not matter. This myth continues because fair use can be confusing.

Fair use allows you to use copyright content under certain conditions such as if the work is ‘transformative’, whether it provides commentary or other definitions. In order to fully understand fair use, check out YouTube’s guide to fair use.

Copyright Myth: Other YouTubers Videos or Images posted Online are Public Domain

Anytime you post a video to YouTube or an image to Twitter, you have the copyright to that content. Unless the creator explicitly lists their content as Creative Commons, they have copyright protection. As such, while you may be able to use their content under fair use you should not violate their copyrighted content.