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Maximizing Audience Reach: Podcast Music Laws.

By Tom Seest

Can You Legally Play Copyrighted Music on Your Podcast?

At PodcastBig, we help new podcasters develop strategies to create content, traffic, and revenue from podcasts based on our experiences and experimentation.

Copyrighted music may be included in podcasts, with certain restrictions and requirements in mind. Communicating directly with copyright holders for each track you plan to use would likely not be possible and may create legal complications.
Proving “fair use” in court can be expensive and complex. Here are the best strategies for using music in podcasts without incurring legal trouble.

Can You Legally Play Copyrighted Music on Your Podcast?

Can You Legally Play Copyrighted Music on Your Podcast?

Legal considerations regarding podcasters’ use of copyrighted music can be complex and potentially costly, which makes consulting with an attorney or an attorney-approved guide like this one essential to getting accurate and comprehensive information about this area of practice.
As a rule, without permission from its rights holder to use a song in your podcast, it cannot be played. No matter how short the duration, even 30 seconds won’t do! Music has two separate types of copyright: musical composition rights and recording rights; therefore using it without consent falls under either category of copyrights. One exception would be under Fair Use doctrine which is an intricate area of law.
If you have an established relationship with a song’s composer or record label and they know you intend to use their track in your podcast, they may not object as long as it is clearly communicated that this will not be used commercially but is limited in audience size, such as friends and family. Unfortunately, most podcasters do not have relationships with the creators of the music they want to use in their show, making contacting each rights holder for permission impractical or costly.
License music to use in your podcast as another option. This process mirrors that used by movies and TV productions, where a music supervisor works closely with copyright holders to secure permission for productions. There are royalty-free music libraries that permit you to purchase individual song licenses for use in podcast productions – either as single payments or subscription services providing access to all their library of songs available for licensing.

How Can You Safely Feature Popular Songs in Your Podcasts?

How Can You Safely Feature Popular Songs in Your Podcasts?

Can You Legally Use Famous Music in Your Podcast?

Copyright owners possess an exclusive right to regulate certain activities associated with their work, such as duplicating it, changing it and distributing or performing it publicly. Anyone wanting to do any of those things must first gain permission from its creator unless an exception or exclusion applies.
Copyright violations such as using music without authorization are offenses that carry significant fines, so it’s vital that people recognize this risk before risking breaking these laws by including copyrighted music in their podcasts.
One common misunderstanding regarding podcasting music use is that as long as their podcast does not make money or become available to the general public, they can use whatever songs they like without fear of legal ramifications. Unfortunately this is not the case and if your podcast becomes popular enough, copyright owners could easily come into possession of its rights and bring legal proceedings against your show.
Misconceptions exist regarding what it means to use copyrighted music “fairly.” This concept is extremely complicated, with very specific criteria that must be fulfilled to qualify as fair use. Unfortunately, copyrighted music used for entertainment purposes is rarely considered fair use; thus, relying on this claim alone should not be relied upon as evidence of fair use.
Opting to obtain permission directly from music rights holders can be impractical for most podcasters; the process can be expensive and time consuming, as well as raising risks of copyright infringement from either them or your hosting platform.
Instead, podcasters should seek to acquire music licenses from companies offering this service. Track Club is one such online music licensing provider that makes acquiring licenses for use in your podcast both cost-effective and straightforward; its library contains high-quality tracks specifically curated for podcast use.

Can You Legally Use Famous Music in Your Podcast?

Can You Legally Use Famous Music in Your Podcast?

Is Beyoncé’s Music Fair Game for Your Podcast?

At times, getting permission to use copyrighted music in your podcast is simple; at other times it can be time-consuming and costly. The process can be especially complex when working alone without an experienced team to assist; you may need to communicate directly with the rights holder/their representatives which could take many hours of negotiation and correspondence before approval can be granted.
Your next step should be obtaining licenses for both musical composition and sound recording, which can be prohibitively expensive. There are, however, services like Track Club that make licensing podcast music cost-effectively and easily.
Another issue facing podcasters is misunderstanding the Fair Use Doctrine, placing them at risk of violating copyright laws. Some producers assume using short samples of songs from podcasts is acceptable as long as they credit their composer – this is an inaccurate understanding of the Fair Use Doctrine; crediting one individual does not grant you permission to redistribute another person’s work in any form.
Be mindful of copyright issues so as to avoid them. Copyright can be an intricacies subject, so when necessary it may be worthwhile consulting legal advice – having this knowledge can save a great deal of headache in the future.
Does Your Podcast Require Music for Success? As a producer, you may be tempted to include music as an add-on for more engaging podcast episodes. But some topics don’t necessitate additional audio at all – for instance, when discussing recent tragic events or serious matters, for example, removing music can allow audiences to focus on what is being discussed better and reflect upon it afterward.
Note that using copyrighted music could result in you being sued by its rightsholders for violation of their intellectual property, potentially leading to your podcast being removed from directories like Spotify and YouTube.

Is Beyoncé's Music Fair Game for Your Podcast?

Is Beyoncé’s Music Fair Game for Your Podcast?

What Are The Consequences?

If your podcast utilizes copyrighted music without proper authorization, this may violate copyright laws and lead to fines being assessed against it by directories such as Spotify or Apple Music; alternatively, they could force you to pay the rights holder an exorbitant sum as payment of damages for violating their intellectual property.
However, an exception exists if your use of music falls within “fair use”, in which case no permission may be required from its right holder. Unfortunately, proving fair use may be challenging; de minimis use refers to very short clips of songs used without modification and only applies to musical works and not sound recordings.
Integrating music into your podcast is a surefire way to keep listeners engaged, but be wary about using songs without the appropriate license or rights – otherwise you risk getting flagged as violator of copyright, which can be both expensive and time consuming to resolve.
Copyright infringement can be a complex issue, so unless you have permission from their rights holders it’s best to refrain from including copyrighted songs in your podcast. If that isn’t an option, then consider creating or finding alternative songs to use instead.
To legally use music in your podcast, you will require the permission from all relevant copyright holders. Typically this means securing both a Music Composition License from its composer as well as a Master Recording License from either their record label or artist directly – Easy Song can assist in helping you secure this through our Custom Licensing services.
Please remember that the legal information presented in this guide is intended solely for educational use and should not be seen as providing complete answers or serving as a replacement for professional advice.

What Are The Consequences?

What Are The Consequences?

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