Using recorded music

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  • Some years ago I made some short movies for the fun of it and included in the sound track music recorded by various musicians mostly as background. Now there's an opportunity to put these pieces online on sites like and others. I wonder if using the music is an infringement on the musician's rights.

    Thanks for any comments,
  • Unless your use of the music can be defended as fair use, it's possible that your use infringes the rights to the musical compositions as well as the sound recordings involved. Whether or not you can claim fair use is going to depend on several factors -- see the Fair Use Checklist and other resources available on the CAN home page for more info. For instance, if you've used more than a very short snippet of any composition or recording, it's unlikely that a fair use argument will hold water when you add to this the fact that music, as highly creative material, is more protected than other types of works and that the films are posted on a public Web site.

    But it all depends on the specific facts. If the music was available under something like a Creative Commons license, then you might be able to use it for purposes spelled out in the license, such as noncommercial uses with attribution. In fact, you might want to search the Creative Commons site for music that you can use without having to worry about copyright infringement: (or see the Content Curators page at

    You might find recorded music here that you could substitute for the music you originally used in your films, if you are reasonably unsure that fair use won't apply.

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