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How to Know If a Song is Copyrighted?If you are a musician or songwriter, you probably invest plenty of time, passion, and effort into every piece or project you work on. And it is likely that after all that work, you want to protect your audio projects. You may know that filing music copyright will help you achieve this goal.

For artists, musicians, and songwriters working with audio and video, copyright concerns and issues almost inevitably creep up. There is no doubt that with so many ways to share and engage with content, identity and ownership protections are now necessary.

Also, music streaming applications and platforms, such as Spotify, have completely changed how we consume music. For example, these days, there is no need to download music or your favorite songs on your Android or iOS device in order to listen to them offline. This is because you can subscribe to Spotify Premium and similar platforms and download your favorite songs for offline playback, which is convenient.

One of the most significant challenges faced by content creators and artists is finding the right music or songs for their videos. Because of strict regulations and rules of major video sharing platforms, including YouTube, Twitch, Vimeo, or Instagram, using a copyrighted song in your video can lead to adverse results. For instance, your video can be taken down, and you may lose your monetization privileges, and you don't want that.

So, how do you know if a specific song, such as Queen - We Will Rock You (Psytrance remix) is subject to copyright law and regulations?

First, you have to assume that all published music, including handwritten sheet music and home recordings — is subject to US intellectual property law. Hence, you may face legal trouble if you were to use a track or song in an unlicensed way.

So, before you use any background music or song in one of your videos or other work, you should verify if there are any copyrights with that music track.

What is Copyright?

A copyright is a kind of Intellectual Property (IP) giving its owner, such as a song producer, the exclusive right to copy as well as distribute a creative work, typically for a limited time. You should know that creative work could be in an artistic, literary, educational, or musical form.

So, music copyright designates formal legal ownership of a sound recording or musical composition. This ownership also includes exclusive legal rights to reproduce and redistribute the work and licensing rights that allow the copyright holder to earn royalties. So, does this mean that all musical works or songs are copyrighted? In most cases, that is the case.

A piece of copyrighted music, such as a song, is intended to safeguard the artists' IP by only providing them with the exclusive right to use their artwork in any way that's convenient.

Everybody else must get permission or a formal license from the copyright owner in order to use the copyrighted songs. You have to pay a fee for this permission or license.

How to Check if a Song or Track Falls Under Copyright?

#1 Free Copy Right Checker

There are some simple ways to discover if a song or track is copyrighted. You may use YouTube's Audio Library. On the other hand, you can also check the comprehensive list of Public Domain Songs.

#2 YouTube's Audio Library

Before posting a video on YouTube, you may check YouTube's Audio Library in order to see if the song or track you would like to use is copyrighted.

  1. Visit YouTube.
  2. Now switch to the Creator Studio dashboard and click on the Audio Library.
  3. After that, click on the Create option in the main menu.
  4. The next step is to click the "Ad-Supported Music" button. There you'll see Audio Library's search box.
  5. Enter the name of the track or song you would like to check. After that, click on the "Check its copyright policies" button in order to view the details.

#3 Checking if a Song is Copyrighted on Spotify

You may know that Spotify has both non-copyrighted and copyrighted music. This is why you should double-check before using a track or song on any platform. This will help you avoid legal troubles.

Note that Spotify does not provide any direct option to check for a song's copyright. So, you have to manually check the track or song's credits to determine whether it is copyrighted.

  1. Open your web browser and launch Spotify.
  2. Now open the song you would like to find the credits for.
  3. After that, click on the 3 dots beside the song name.
  4. Click on Show credits from the list of options that appears
  5. Now go through the Credits information page. If you find people or music company names in the Written by, Performed by, and Produced by field, the song is likely copyrighted.

The Complete List of Public Domain Songs

You can easily check if a song or track is in the public domain by visiting PD Info webpage. You can type in the name of the song. If the song is on this list, it's in the public domain. This means that you can safely use that track or song in your videos or any other projects. If the song is not present on the public domain list, then it's copyrighted.


Although it is safe and prudent to assume whatever music or song you are considering is under copyright, there are a few ways that you can use to know if a song or track is copyrighted or not.

If you would like to use a particular song or several songs on a YouTube video, keep in mind that the simplest way to check for copyright issues is to visit YouTube's Music Policies page. You will find this page within YouTube's creator studio.

From there, you may search for a specific song or music artist and see what the terms and conditions of the copyright are with YouTube. You will usually see the following message:

In accordance with YouTube's usage restrictions documentation and rules, a music copyright holder has 3 different policies that they can choose from when tackling unlicensed use of their audio or songs within the content of another YouTube channel:


The music copyright holder has decided to monetize this music. As a result, ads will likely appear on your video. Note that in some cases, the music copyright holder might choose to share a portion of that revenue with you. However, even if this policy is applicable, the video might not be available everywhere or on all devices.

Blocked in Some Countries

One or multiple copyright holders have restricted the countries or regions in which this music or song is available on YouTube. Keep in mind that if you use this song or music, your video will not be viewable where the copyright holder has blocked it on YouTube.

Blocked Worldwide

This means that one or more copyright holders don't permit the use of this music or track on YouTube. If you use this song or music, your video might be muted or even unavailable on YouTube.

Common Cases Where Music isn't Copyrighted

While almost all music and songs are copyrighted, when it comes to legal restrictions placed on this music, it is also about the way you use it.

Songs Under the Public Domain

You should know that older songs and classics can enter what's called the public domain. Music or songs available in the public domain may be used without authorization by anyone. But you may wonder how old these songs really have to be.

  • Remember that the copyright of the sound recording with respect to the mastering rights expires seventy years after the music recording was released
  • On the other hand, the copyright of the song with respect to the publishing rights expires seventy years after the demise of the songwriter

While this makes the pool of available songs and tracks quite limited, you may find some real classics and gems in the public domain.

Music Falling Under Creative Commons Licenses

You can freely use music that falls under the Creative Commons license. However, there are a few restrictions and conditions that you have to follow to use it correctly. If you don't, you will infringe on someone else's copyright.

These terms and conditions could be as simple as providing credit in your video description. However, each song or track may have different requirements. This is why you should always double-check and not assume it is a one size fits all.

Did you know that there are six Creative Commons licenses? Also, each of these licenses has its unique set of rules.

Royalty-free Music

You may have heard of a royalty-free license. This license eliminates the need to discuss and negotiate licensing costs or fees with Performance Rights Organizations (PROs). This means you can utilize copyrighted music when and as you want. You cannot normally use royalty-free music for free. However, you will be happy to know that you only pay the license once and can use the song or recording forever.

You can also make royalty off your audio content by uploading it to AudioGrab and sharing your links on your social media accounts.

Start Browsing Royalty-free Music

Final Thoughts

Learning about copyright laws and practices keeps your intellectual property protected and helps you determine if you can use a song without paying a fee. Know what the copyright law says to avoid infringing other artists' rights.

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