Richard Stim covers some of the challenges involved when playing music on your podcast program. Pop music is especially difficult to license for podcasting because it involves getting permission from two copyright owners. Rich expkains how podcasters may have better luck using Creative Commons music or paying a musician to create original music.
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- [Voiceover] Okay, you've chosen your name. Next you need some intro music. Good luck. The music industry has made it practically impossible for a podcaster to license pop music. You can assume that most podcasts that use Adele, Taylor Swift or any other contemporary music in its intro as background or as a featured musical track is either infringing copyright or possibly is excused under fair use principles, which I'll discuss later.
Why is it so hard to obtain the right to use pop music in a podcast? This is going to get a little exhausting so hang on. Pop music is based on two copyrights, a musical works copyright owned by the songwriter or music publisher that protects the musical composition and a sound recording copyright owned by the artist or record company that protects the recorded version of the song. In order to play a song on your podcast, you need permission from both copyright owners.
Because the song copyright is usually a music publisher, you can find the contact information by searching the records at ascap.com, bmi.com, or sesac.com. Then you can contact the publisher directly and negotiate a podcasting license. Alternatively, you may be able to obtain the license from the Harry Fox Agency, songfile.com, which represents many publishers. In addition to the song copright, you would need to obtain the rights for the sound recording copyright.
Sound exchange represents the rights of sound recording copyright owners, but alas it's not empowered to license music to podcasters. So you'll need to determine the owner of the sound recording copyright, most likely a record label, and then contact the company and negotiate a sound recording license. As you can imagine, the whole experience may prove to be frustrating, expensive, and completely fruitless. Even more frustrating, if you plan to use music with a video podcast, you would also need what is known as a synchronization license from the music publisher and a master use license from the sound recording owner.
That leaves podcasters with two choices, operate without permission and hope to be excused as a fair use if hassled or acquire podsafe music. Here are some suggestions. Hope for fair use. Fair use is a legal defense that permits you to use portions of copyrighted work for purposes of commentary or criticism. I talk about it in more detail in another video, but for now keep in mind the less you use the more likely that a fair use defense will succeed especially if you're using the music to make a point on your show.
For example, playing a few bars of R.E.M.'s The End of the World As We Know It while discussing global warming. As for podsafe music, you can try any of these approaches. Consider public domain or creative comments music. Music in the public domain is free for anyone to use except there's one problem for podcasters. Remember there are two copyrights in music, a song copyright and a sound recording copyright. There are many songs in the public domain.
Check out pdinfo.com and pdmusic.org. But because of a quirk in copyright law, there are a few sound recordings in the public domain. So if you find a public domain song, you'll have to record your own version. You'll have better luck finding music under Creative Commons license. Go to search.creativecommons.org and choose a music resource such as SoundCloud and type in your search, for example blues, rock, or electronic. Note this works fine if the musician has created and owns the underlying song, but it's probably a good idea to avoid Creative Commons remixes of popular music.
Also note there may be conditions for using Creative Commons music. For example, you may need to credit the musician. Another choice for podsafe music is stock or production music, which is available from production music libraries known as PMLs. PMLs provide prerecorded compositions and sound effects for a fee. Once you pay the fee, you're usually guaranteed safe passage for both music copyrights. Also the musical loops that come with Garage Band as well as loops from other providers can be used to construct pod safe intros and backgrounds.
You can also buy or license rights directly from a musician. You can accomplish that using the music rights agreement that accompanies this course. The music rights agreements includes two alternative versions. You can either license the music non-exclusively or you can purchase all rights with an assignment. A non-exclusive license is like renting the music. You don't own all rights, but you can use it for your purposes. With an assignment, you own the music rights and you can prevent anyone else from using them.
DISCLAIMER: This course is taught by an attorney (or other instructor) and addresses US law concepts that may not apply in all countries. Neither LinkedIn (including Lynda.com) nor the instructor represents you and they are not giving legal advice. The information conveyed through this course is akin to a college or law school course; it is not intended to give legal advice, but instead to communicate information to help viewers understand the basics of the topic presented. The views (and legal interpretations) presented in this course do not necessarily represent the views of LinkedIn or Lynda.com.
- Choosing the right name for your podcast
- Using music and interviews in a podcast
- Understanding government regulations
- Responding to complaints
- Generating podcast income
- Registering podcast trademarks and copyrights