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Honoring copyrights on YouTube

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by SBassman, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    I would like to do more recording and posting on YouTube.

    I see many people playing along to tracks - sometimes the original tracks.

    How does one go about using a backing track without violating copyright laws? Does the fact that some of these people mix the track very low have any relevance to the actual law?

    I work for a company that produces some media. They say that a clip of a work that is less than 18 seconds can be reused without permission.

    Are there legit ways to use a song or backing track in a YouTube video without violating the copyright? Thank you.
  2. Jeff Elkins

    Jeff Elkins Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2007
    East Tennessee
    I took a class in copyright law a couple of years ago. To answer your question, unless the owner of the copyright has granted the use to you, there are only a couple of situations where you can legally use the music or performance or recorded work:

    1. Critique, news, or parody (technically, all "critique")
    2. Education/Teaching

    Those are general descriptions, and there is nuance.

    So, technically, for the purpose exactly as you describe, and assuming you don't have the license/rights (and the music/performance/recorded work isn't in the public domain), you can't use it. Volume has no bearing. Also, the 18 (or 8, as I had often heard) seconds or bars is a myth. Not true. Also, whether you profit from your "derivative work" or not also has no legal bearing.

    Having said that--there is an ongoing discussion in America (which you can uncover easily via Google) about the validity and efficacy of our copyright laws. Sides are taken about protecting and encouraging creative endeavors in a capitalist society (the general basis for the origin of the laws), the influence of the motion picture industry (extending the terms for copyright owners'--theirs--profit), and who really benefits from copyright and who gets shafted. Other national copyright laws are different than ours. Less protective, shorter terms.

    Trying hard not to take a side, here. :)

    Also, it's fair (I think) to say that enough money spent on lawyers has resulted in some decisions that cause head-scratching by both literalists as well as "intent"-based analysts.

    The conversation may lead to change. I wouldn't encourage anyone to break laws, but GirlTalk has broken hundreds of copyright laws, and states that, in part, it's a protest against the injustice of the current structure. Also, he has pretty good lawyers helping him make the argument. :)

    If you do what you want, you'll be breaking the law. But you'll also be adding to the conversation, as thousands on YouTube and elsewhere, and with other art, already are. I can't say what the risks would be.

    Whether, in the end, you care or not is totally your call!