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syzygy2600's avatar

Question about copyright and fair use of music?

Asked by syzygy2600 (3326points) February 22nd, 2011

I’m working on a project that I want to include copy written music. This project is being done by me on my free time, and will not be distributed for profit. I am willing to give credit where credit is due, but I’m not going to pay royalties on something I’m going to be distributing for free.

I was of the understanding that if you used only a certain part of a song (60 seconds or less, or maybe it was 40 seconds or less) then you can claim fair use and not have to pay royalties. Does anyone know if this is correct? And does anyone know whats the most I could use of a song and not have to pay royalties? I live in Canada if that makes a difference.

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5 Answers

SuppRatings's avatar

The only way you can do it legally in the United States is if it is part of a school project and 100% not commercial in any nature. In addition, it would be best to contact the copyright holder for permission to use a portion for a non commercial project.

lillycoyote's avatar

There is no specific time limit, no specific number of minutes or bars of a piece of music that constitutes “fair use.” Fair use is about the context in which you are using the music rather than the amount of the music you are using. And the fact that you are not profiting doesn’t matter either. And if it’s a school project that doesn’t mean that it is fair use. You really should check with a lawyer. I have no idea about Canadian law though I suspect it is similar. The problem is that you could end up being sued by the holder of the music right and then be barred from distributing your project at all; after you’ve put a lot of work into it. You should either talk to a lawyer or find out who owns the rights to the music, song, recording. Or try to find royalty free music, music that is in the public domain; and you need to be sure that the performance and the recording are in the public domain also, not just the composition, and use that.

everephebe's avatar

First of all, which piece of music do you want to use?

Jeruba's avatar

Copyrighted, or copyright-protected, not “copywritten.” It’s about rights, meaning ownership and control, and not writing.

I’ve seen this question before on fluther. Did you search for it?

crazyivan's avatar

If I’m not mistaken (and I usually am) the equivalent to “fair use” in music is a reckoned by number of notes in a melody (6 as of 1994) but it is a far less exact science than fair use in terms of books, articles, etc.

And thanks for the correction, Jeruba. My nerves stood on end when I saw it, too…

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