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Author Topic: Music Copyright Laws re: youtube videos  (Read 383 times)


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Music Copyright Laws re: youtube videos
« on: 02-23-18 at 01:07 pm »

I am interested in teaching famous pop songs in youtube videos to my piano students.

Where is the best place for me to know for sure what are the rules and regulations in this regard?

For example, am I allowed to teach a part of the song without permission from the owner?
If I teach the whole song, do I need permission from the owner of the song?

Any suggestions or advice you can offer is appreciated. Thanks!

Robert T Nicholson

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Re: Music Copyright Laws re: youtube videos
« Reply #1 on: 02-23-18 at 04:02 pm »

There are actually two parts to this question:  What is allowed under copyright law, and what will be allowed on YouTube.


If you perform or present a work that is protected by copyright, without permission, you are violating the copyright.  But there is an exception that you are probably familiar with, called Fair Use.  Here's what the copyright office has to say about fair use:

As you can see, there are a number of factors used to determine fair use.  Courts evaluate fair use claims on a case-by-case basis.  You want to have as many of these factors on your side as possible.  So, in your case, you would want to:

(1)  Clearly present your videos as educational material.  Make sure they are instructional in nature.

(2)  Use as little of the material as you can to make the educational points.  Don't use the entire song.

(3)  Do not "monetize" your YouTube Channel.

Note that you can still be sued for copyright infringement, but you would at least have a good defensive position.


In the early days, YouTube was filled with stolen copyrighted material.  Faced with legal threats, YouTube responded by instituting automated filters that detect the "signatures" of copyrighted works, and they automatically notify the major music and video publishers and distributers. 

Those publishers and distributers may or may not object to your use.  If they do, YouTube will take a variety of actions, ranging from disabling the sound on your video, to removing it, to blocking your account entirely (if they get a lot of complaints).  And unlike the court system, YouTube doesn't give you any recourse. 

The good news here is that the copyright holders are unlikely to sue you - their first recourse is simply filing a complaint with YouTube. 

The bad news is that you really won't know how far you can push the envelop, other than just trying.

If it's possible to present the instructional points you want to make by using public domain music (such as traditional folk songs), I'd lean in that direction.

« Last Edit: 02-23-18 at 04:06 pm by artchain »
This post is provided for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.

Robert Nicholson Consulting | Copyright Safeguard | ED Treatment Center


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Re: Music Copyright Laws re: youtube videos
« Reply #2 on: 02-26-18 at 02:35 pm »

Thank you, Artchain!


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