Copyright Law for Music in your Videos

Copyright Law for Music in your Videos
May 30, 2012

Copyright law – not the most exciting topic of conversation, but if you are using Brainshark’s Background Audio feature to upload music to your Brainshark presentation, this article could save you a trip to the big house! Well OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but you definitely don’t want to land yourself or your company on the wrong side of copyright law.

Brainshark's Background Audio feature allows you to upload any .mp3 file you have on hand for use as musical accompaniment to your presentation. But, just because you can upload any .mp3 track to Brainshark doesn’t mean that you should. A young man bitten by a radioactive spider once said “with great power comes great responsibility” (Get it? World Wide Web, Spiderman, anywho…). With Brainshark you have the power to reach a huge audience with your message, and you want to make sure that if you are using Background Audio that you stay on the straight and narrow of copyright law.

Before I go any further, I must make the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer and I’ll make the obligatory joke that I don’t play one on TV. I am a musician though, and know a thing or two about how the music industry works. Copyright law is a very complex and arcane subject, but a little bit of know how is enough to help you steer clear of copyright infringement. So, I’ll share what little I know on the subject and then point you to some online resources so the experts can do most of the talking er… typing.

OK, now for the rub… I hate to be a downer but the sad truth is that it’s probably not OK to use your favorite Lady Gaga track in your presentation. “But I bought the album, I didn’t download it illegally” – That may be the case (and kudos to you for putting some money in your favorite artist’s pocket), but while buying an album gets you a license for personal use, it does not give you the right to use the music from that album in a Brainshark presentation. Boo! Hiss! I know, but for the songwriters and performers that create and perform these songs, it is their livelihood and if we want them to be able to keep creating music for us, we have to help them pay their bills. So, if you do want to use that Lady Gaga track, you’ll have to get in contact with and purchase a license from the copyright owner.

If you do choose to go this route or if you just want to learn more about music royalties, this article does a great job of explaining how they work. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has a big hand in protecting intellectual property rights and is also an invaluable source of information on the subject. If all of this talk of licensing and copyright law has your head spinning, don’t worry! There are plenty of other options that won’t cost you an arm and a leg:

Use the royalty free tracks that come with Brainshark –You may not know this, but right out of the box, Brainshark includes a number of pre-uploaded royalty free tracks (courtesy of Royalty Free Music Library) that you can use with a clear conscience!

Royalty Free Music Library – Royalty Free Music Library provides high quality, hassle-free production music at an affordable price. And as a bonus, Brainshark customers receive a 20% discount! To access the discount code, log-in to your Brainshark account and navigate to the Background Audio tab in your site’s Media Library. Please note that Brainshark customers may use these music tracks for Brainshark presentations only. Any other use of the music is a violation of applicable copyright laws.

Creative Commons – Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. What does that mean? These guys understand that the complicated reality of copyright law can sometimes stifle creativity, so they have devised Creative Common Licenses which allow for re-use cases where no commercial compensation is sought by the copyright owners. However, the copyright owners may specify that you need to make mention of the fact that you are using their material in your project.

Locally grown musicians – Before you seek out talent on the internet, take a look around for local artists looking for exposure. They may be more than happy to let you showcase their music, or tailor music to your needs for little or no cost. There may even be people, like myself, moonlighting as musicians at your company. Why use the same stock music as everyone else when you can use music that no one else is using and support your local talent at the same time!

There are plenty of other options out there which I won’t list, just Google “royalty free music”.

Hopefully you now know enough about copyright law to keep your nose clean when uploading Background Audio to Brainshark. Be well, and keep creating!

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