The term “copyright free” has overflooded the internet these recent years. But there are often misconceptions about what copyright free music is. To get a clear vision of what it is, we’re giving you some insights on that subject in this article.

A brief history of copyrights

Copyrights go way back to the 18th century. In the UK, the 1710 Copyright Act passed under the reign of Queen Anne who introduced the concept of copyright in the common law. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act now fixes it 1988. For the United States, the Copyright Act of 1790 was the first piece of legislation setting copyright laws. It has been revised since then, and copyrights now fall under the Copyright Act of 1976. That piece of legislation is of a particular interest for us. It indeed fixes the notion of a “fair use” that most of the online creators have already heard .

Precisely, copyright describes a type of intellectual property that protect the author of a creation. In our case, it is a song or any piece of music. It prevents people from using a work of art without the author’s consent. This protection lasts for a certain period of time.

Then what are we talking about when it comes to copyright free music?

Concretely, the Copyright Act says that the Copyright protection exists in accordance with this title. Also in the original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed . That means that as soon as a work of art is created, the author is the owner of the copyrights. That’s why it’s hard to use the term “copyright free music”. Strictly speaking there are few pieces of music that are copyright free. You can say that a song is “copyright free”, only if its author specifically renounced to all his rights on the creation. Or if he passed away more than 70 years ago (depending on the national legislation). And finally, if the US Government produced it, but I haven’t heard many hit songs from them, have you?

Then why do I hear people talking around the copyright free music on the internet?”, you may ask. That’s because there are many songs under free licenses, which means that their producers allowed people to use it under certain conditions. You can think of all sounds offered by non-profit sites such as YouTube Audio Library or Creative Commons websites. They authorize you to use it if your creation allows to identify the author (if you mention the author, briefly speaking). But make sure to check what’s exactly authorized to do with that kind of music, since licenses differ from one work to another.

Why it becomes so controversial?

Copyright free music gained traction these days due to the rise of video platforms like YouTube which have introduced tougher policies on the copyright matters. Content ID (the algorithm that identifies when copyrighted music is used in a video) has been introduced to generate copyright claims that can lead to sanctions for YouTubers (which can be quite harsh). That’s why everybody out there is looking for the free copyright music to add on their videos.

But there are other reasons that explains the controversies related to the copyright policy on YouTube. Likewise, some companies are buying back the rights from certain songs that used to be copyright free in order to reclaim revenues from video who used them. On top of that, creators suffer from Content ID dysfunction (over-flooding of copyright claims), a real greyness and ambiguity on the notion of fair use.

Alternatives to copyright free music

Copyright free music is thus a cheap and easy solution to find music to add for your online content. However, you see that the use of such sounds can be tricky. Other alternatives exist to use great music for the visual creation. So, if you are a creative artist and for instance looking for some cool rock-pop and fun filled chops, check them out from our French indie session. Further, BAM Music provides legal, safe and economical music licenses for both professional and amateur content creators. It has never been that easier to find great music for your creation!