Free music elements for your flash and video

Bill Mecca’s QuickTips Episode 5 deals with keeping it legal when it comes to adding music to your video productions – Lists some places to locate free music for those who need to use some but are not musically inclined.

He is former television and radio journalist. Has won some awards for his video production, including a Documentary DVD, “Lost Towns of the Pine Barrens, Vol. I ” Taught Mass Communications courses at a local college. Operates a one person video production department at a state agency. He is musically inclined.

It is more than merely an ethical issue; If you are doing more than creating something as a hobby, to learn how to do it. Lets say you produce a quality video that brings you 1000s of visitors and customers through youtube. But there is a small problem – you violated somebody else’s copyright. Once you start to make it to the top, emerge above the radar – your youtube account gets shut down – copyright violation! And, If you have money maybe add a lawsuit. You are shut down.

What is reasonable? You need something for your site that technically belongs to somebody else but you have it in your hand or can get it in your hand. What is reasonable is you pay for it. If the something was a product at 7-11, and you are now out of the store, it is not yours. Once they know, once you emerge above the radar, somebody will need to talk to you.

The way many licenses work is there are more than one person involved. A video may be produced by one company but they need to pay royalties to another – even if they like you – the production company is your friend; They do not have the option to allow you to cost the others involved a lose. Others have a piece of the action, that was the terms used to create the product. The production company agreed to protect the product – It is their job.

If your production is the video material, and the audio is an artists song. You are not doing the artist any favor. We are not talking gray we are talking black as sin. All a owner has to show is that the video has caused financial harm. Did people download your video because they wanted the song and free was a better price – if the answer is yes, you are guilty. The question is not if you made money – The question is did you cause them a lose of money.

Is there a gray space, that allows you to use a portion of it? or a gray space that you will be ignored? Make your own rendition if you are musically inclined? Yes there is but it is very dark gray. Copyright law was created to increase production of the arts – fair use exists but only a judge can decide if your usage falls into fair use. Best not to place your future at risk. Claiming fair use when your usage is causing somebody harm may just be enough to change what would of been a request to stop into a lawsuit, and the legal burden to prove fair use is on you not the the one making the claim. They show the court (not you) ownership and that you have harmed them that is all they need to do. To close your youtube account – they send youtube a fax or fill out a form – youtube is a deep pocket, they do not want to be closed down, they do not want to hire an attorney to defend your video, they close your account.

If you want to be successful it is best to not be temped by things that will ultimately prevent you from being successful.


One response

  1. Good info, there are so many ways for even those who are not musically inclined, that violating copyright shouldn’t even be in question. Loops programs like Sony’s Acid (and the free version Acid Express) I’ve also used midi programs like PG Music’s Band in a Box, or Magix’s Musicmaker(another loop program like Acid).

    Bottom line in my book is if you didn’t create it you can’t use it. Of course you can license it, but with popular music that can be time consuming and expensive.

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