How to Find Non-Copyrighted Music for Your Videos (2022 update) (2023)

So, you’ve established an idea for a YouTube video – a concept, visuals, script. You’ve been busy writing, planning, projecting, and casting. But what about background music?

You weren’t planning on a silent movie, were you? Surely your video needs sound to be complete.

Your next thought is okay, I just have to surf through my playlists and grab some great tunes. Not so fast.

Unfortunately, there is a caveat.

Videographers beware of copyright infringement.

YouTube has rules, and you’d better follow them or your debut will never hit the box office.

Shedding Light on Copyright Laws

It would be helpful to understand music copyright laws so you can stay out of trouble. Although it’s true that music is protected once “maestro” sets his or her notes to paper or recording, it would require something more concrete than that to win a battle in the judicial system. Know the following steps to complete the beautiful cycle of your video production process:


To really establish full protection, the composer must register his or her piece with the U.S. Copyright Office. Courts don’t like grey areas. This fills in the blanks with a black ink pen.

And forget the old “Poor Man’s Copyright.” This is the method where you mail yourself a copy of the work and keep it in a sealed envelope. Not happening with modern copyright laws.

A piece of music officially copyrighted through the proper channels offers airtight protection, so YouTube creators, don’t let your guard down.

Copyright Laws Restrict You From:

  • Reproducing the work
  • Adapting or arranging the work
  • Performing the work
  • Displaying, distributing, and/or selling copies of the work

What Will Happen If You Don’t Play by The Rules

The content police at YouTube are on the alert. Did you know that YouTube developed a Content ID system that can detect the illegal use of copyrighted music? You can’t fool YouTube. If they find that there is a misuse of content, your video can be taken down or blocked. The copyright owners can even track the video’s viewership statistics to determine if you monetized the video and should consider coming after you for funds.

How in the world would YouTube ever know if a music selection you plucked from the depths of the web is legal to use, you ask? They will more than likely find out.

Here’s the process:

  • YouTube created a Content ID system, essentially a database of copyrighted content
  • Copyright owners can use a system called Content ID to maintain their musical content on YouTube.
  • Videos uploaded to YouTube are matched against a collection of files that are stored in an internal database.
(Video) Best Royalty Free Music for YouTube Videos - Top 3 Sites for 2022!

YouTube catches you red-handed. What happens next?

  • Your fate is in the hands of the copyright owners. On a good day, you may get a slap on the wrist. Or, the owner can initiate a Content ID claim.
  • They can force you to take your video down.
  • YouTube will slap you with a Copyright infringement strike on your profile. This may prohibit you from certain privileges as a user.

No Need for The Magical Mystery Tour

Not to burst your creative bubble, but now there is an extra step in the artistic process you may not have counted on. Content creators and film makers are faced with the daunting task of searching for non-copyrighted music for their project.

Or maybe not.

Music to Your Ears: Where to find Non-copyrighted Music

Fortunately, there’s a treasure trove of non-copyrighted music out there. I’ve done the research, and there’s a pretty robust list of musicians and entities offering their music free of copyright restrictions.

Here’s what I’ve found:

Creative Commons Music

  • This is a global effort to share music legitimately. They’ve built platforms that make it easy to navigate royalty-free, non-copyrighted music works, with the intention of collaboration and creative cooperation. You may have to properly attribute the work according to the agreement executed by the creator. But it’s pretty easy to explore; you simply search for the genre or style of music you’re looking for and you will be directed to a host of options. The individual piece you are interested in will have its usage parameters posted clearly.
(Video) how to use COPYRIGHTED MUSIC on YouTube LEGALLY! 👀

Royalty Free Music by Bensound

  • I really like this anthology because of its simplicity and streamlined catalog. Visually it’s very easy to maneuver through collections. There’s a generous amount of music to choose from, covering jazz, rock, cinematic, acoustic, and more. The covers are finished with artsy images, making sifting through the selections an engaging, fun experience.

Purple Planet

  • With a cool and funky vibe, users are invited into a surreal universe of tracks with virtually infinite musical compositions. Although they house the usual contenders like dance and retro, their approach is slightly off-beat offering titles in the creepy, sneaky, and tense domains as well.

If none of these options suit your fancy, here is a short list of other places to find copyright-free music:

I also spoke to Tim Stockman, CEO of Blue Dog Video, to get his take on where video production companies are getting their music. He said he uses a combination of Audio Blocks and Audio Jungle. “Sometimes to find the perfect audio clip,” he says, “you have to pay. But you’ll find the music much more original.”

(Video) How to make any song NON COPYRIGHTED live TUTORIAL

If you venture out on your own to hunt down other sources for non-copyrighted music, just be careful to read the fine print. Some websites charge hidden fees for usage, don’t adhere to restrictions in their entirety, or prohibit use in certain situations. Hell, even this list is subject to change. If you see any that are no longer free or have suggestions to this list, please let me know in the comments.

When it comes to your YouTube video you worked so hard to create and publish, better to be safe than sorry. Be sure the music you choose abides by the copyright rules set forth by YouTube.

Non-copyright Music FAQ

How to know if a song is copyrighted on YouTube?

If you are unsure whether a song is copywritten on YouTube you can do a number of things to check:

  • Check the Public Domain Info site for the track in question. This site will tell you if it is ok to use the song on your videos.
  • Look up the song on YouTube. If you find the original artist, the track should provide copyright information in the description under the “Music in this video” section. You can also do this if you hear a song in a different video and want to get song information.
  • Upload your video as private and allow YouTube’s Content ID system to check for you. If your song is copywritten, you’ll get a warning.
  • Hire a company that helps with copyright law.

How to legally use copyrighted music on YouTube?

The most basic answer to this question is that you have to get a license from the copyright owner. For more specifics on using copyrighted music on YouTube, check out this resource.

What are some popular songs that aren’t copyrighted?

Need a familiar tune to complement your video? Good news, there are some songs available in the public domain that you can use. Check out these resources for some detailed lists:


Can I just use part of a song? 30 or 60 seconds?

Unfortunately no, even parts of songs are protected from copyright restrictions.


Digital Elevator has partnered up with high-quality, affordable, video production companies that work with TV commercial clients and self cell phone shooters. Contact us and let us know what your goals are and we’ll let you know what we can do.


How do you check if a song is copyrighted 2022? ›

Public domain songs: The website PDInfo not only has information about copyright law; it also lists all the songs available in the public domain. Typically, these are songs composed or recorded in 1926 or before, as of January 2022.

What songs can I use without copyright? ›

Public Domain Songs

In general, published works like musical compositions enter the public domain, or lose their legal copyright protection, about 70 years after the author dies. Songs published in 1926 and before are considered in the public domain as of January 1st, 2022.

How can I legally use music in my video? ›

Put simply; you can legally use music in videos if you have permission from the person, people, or company who owns the rights. Since the publisher and the record label usually hold music rights, you'll have to get permission from both. From the publisher or composer, you'll get a synchronization (or sync license).

What songs can I use on TikTok without copyright? ›

When you upload your own music to TikTok, use music that is paid for (royalty-free, Creative Commons, or licensed through a performing rights organization), or stitch together your video on top of another creator's video, these are all considered legal uses of sound on TikTok, and you will not be penalized.

How long can you use a song without copyright? ›

You may have heard of "fair use," a copyright provision that permits you to use 10, 15 or 30 seconds of music without copyright obligation. That is, you understand that you can use a short section of a song without paying a fee.

Can I use 10 seconds of a copyrighted song? ›

Any use of copyrighted material without permission is, according to U.S. copyright law, copyright infringement. It does not matter if you use one second or the entire song, using copyrighted materials without the consent or permission of the copyright owner, constitutes copyright infringement.

How do I add music to a Facebook video without copyright? ›

For music you can legally use on Facebook without a copyright, you can use a service that contains a catalog of royalty-free or stock music. These services usually require a monthly or annual subscription, and you can then use the music as you need it. Some allow you to pay a one-time fee for specific tracks.

What music is public domain? ›

Generally, any song or musical work published in 1925 or before in the US is in the public domain. As of January 1, 2022, musical compositions from 1926 and earlier will be in the public domain.

Which artists are not copyrighted? ›

Happy Public Domain Day! From Stieglitz to Severini, 12 Artists Whose Work Is Now Copyright-Free
  • Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) ...
  • László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) ...
  • Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) ...
  • Bob Thompson (1937–1966) ...
  • Paul Nash (1889–1946) ...
  • Joseph Stella (1877–1946) ...
  • Florence Fuller (1867–1946) ...
  • Hans Hofmann (1880–1966)
Jan 3, 2017

What happens if I use music without permission? ›

Creators of original words, like music, hold copyright protection over those works, meaning that they have exclusive rights to perform or copy those tunes. If you infringe on those rights, taking their tunes without permission, you could face legal liability.

What if someone uses your song without permission? ›

If your work is used unlawfully, without your permission and not under a statutory limitation, it is your right to pursue legal action. However you do need to register your work with the Copyright Office before bringing an infringement lawsuit for your work in the United States.

How much does it cost to get copyright permission for a song? ›

The copyright owner can copyright a song or multiple songs on an audio recording. It takes six or more months to process a song copyright. A nonrefundable $35 filing fee for online applications and an $85 filing fee for paper applications as of this date. Fees can change so always check the U.S. Copyright website.

How do you get around copyright? ›

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to avoid content ownership issues.
  1. 1) Receive Permission. The best way to utilize copyrighted content is by seeking the author's permission. ...
  2. 2) Use Images from Public Domain. ...
  3. 3) Give Credit. ...
  4. 4) Review Ownership Rights on Social Media Pages. ...
  5. 5) Consider Buying Content.

Does a copyright claim affect views? ›

The claim may affect your views as the owner may restrict the video from appearing on certain websites, devices, or even various countries. However, some copyright owners choose more aggressive policies, which could result in your video being blocked or removed entirely. A copyright claim does not serve as a penalty.

Is it illegal to post a video with music in the background? ›

Essentially, any background sounds protected by copyright that you include in your video, without obtaining permission, could make you liable for infringement.

Will I get sued if I use copyrighted music? ›

Anyone can argue any thing in court. So the question becomes whether or not the law backs them up. In this case, if you use someone else's musical composition or sound recording you need a license. If you haven't obtained a license, even if what you're doing is for free or even a charity, then they can sue you.

What happens if you get caught using copyrighted music? ›

Chapter 5 of American copyright law specifies statutory damages, or fees. According to the law, those cannot be lower than $750 or more than $30,000. However, if the court determines that your use of the music is somehow willful, the court could increase the damages to $150,000.

How many seconds of copyrighted music can I use on Facebook? ›

There are no limits on music in Stories, or traditional musical performances (example: filming a live artist or band performing their own music). The more full-length recorded tracks in your video, the more likely the video may be limited (example: muted or blocked). Shorter clips of music are recommended.

How do I add non copyrighted music to my video? ›

How To Add Royalty Free Music To A Video
  1. Head over to Once you've actually found the music you want to add to your video, you can head over to
  2. Upload your video. ...
  3. Upload your music. ...
  4. Adjust volume levels. ...
  5. Download your video.

How can I use a song in a video without copyright infringement? ›

Put simply; you can legally use music in videos if you have permission from the person, people, or company who owns the rights. Since the publisher and the record label usually hold music rights, you'll have to get permission from both. From the publisher or composer, you'll get a synchronization (or sync license).

Is Soundcloud no copyright? ›

Are Soundcloud songs copyrighted? Some Soundcloud tracks are copyrighted while others are not. Music on Soundcloud can fit under a variety of licenses, so it's important that you cater your search results appropriately and inspect each song individually to make sure that you are utilizing truly copyright-free tracks.

How do I upload a video to Facebook without getting copyright warnings about the music? ›

How to post music on Facebook without copyright?
  1. Use stock music libraries. Stock music libraries have large stores of stock music created by aspiring musicians. ...
  2. License directly from copyright holders. ...
  3. License hit music with Lickd. ...
  4. Use Facebook's sound collection. ...
  5. Use royalty-free music.
Jun 24, 2021

How you can legally use a song without the songwriters permission? ›

Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows a user to use portions of copyrighted materials for the purpose of commentary, criticism, reporting, teaching, and research without the need for permission from, or payment to, a copyright owner.

How can I avoid copyright without permission? ›

Six steps to protect against copyright infringement claims
  1. Do not copy anything. ...
  2. Avoid non-virgin development. ...
  3. Avoid access to prior design work. ...
  4. Document right to use. ...
  5. Negotiate for enhanced warranty and indemnity clauses. ...
  6. Document your own work.

Can I get sued on SoundCloud? ›

This means, for example, that uploading a song created by someone else or creating a remix of someone else's work, even if you're only using a small part, may be infringing. In addition to penalties that may be placed on your SoundCloud account, there may be civil or criminal liability.


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