How to see if a song is copyrighted

How to see if a song is copyrighted

You should check its copyright status if you decide to use music in your YouTube video to avoid receiving a copyright strike and have your video or channel removed. Now, how can you see if a song is copyrighted? Keep reading to find out!

A copyright is a legal protection granted to the author, musician, Artist, or owner of intellectual property to ensure that their work is not used without permission. You will likely need to come to some agreement with the owner of the copyright, which may include royalty payments.

This article has everything you need to know about whether a song is copyrighted when copyright laws do not protect music, how you can legally use copyrighted music and more.

Is There a Copyright for All Songs?

Copyright for All Songs If a piece of music is DMCA-free, remember that most songs have copyrights. But, even if there is an increasing trend toward music with no copyright protections, not all copyrighted songs are subject to the same limitations.

When is music not protected by copyright laws?

music not protected by copyright laws

The good news is that music is available that does not infringe upon anyone's copyright. Here are several scenarios when acquiring licenses is unnecessary.

When the song is in a Public Domain, the term “public domain” refers to music that is not protected by intellectual property laws and is thus free to be used by anybody without a license or permission. Even so, for a song to be considered part of the public domain, it should meet the following requirements:

  • It was written before the establishment of copyright in 1710, at which point its usage was no longer protected by law.
  • Fifty and seventy years have elapsed since the author's death: The exact number of years is country-specific.
  • Songs written before 1978 and original copyright owners didn't renew their copyrights.

When you use a Creative Commons license, you can be sure that the original creator will get credit for their work; while enabling you to make certain non-commercial copies, distributions, and uses of the licensed material. Here are some of the licenses under the Creative standard license:

  • Under the terms of a CC BY license, people may redistribute your work, remix it, modify it, and build upon it commercially, so long as they give you credit as the author. When compared to other available licenses, this one is the most flexible.
  • The CC BY-Share Alike (SA) license gives credit to the original author. For commercial usage, others must credit you as the author and license their versions under the same terms as the original, but they may sell copies of your work that they have altered. Since Wikipedia uses this license, it is strongly suggested that any work that uses content from Wikipedia or other similarly licensed projects adopt it.
  • CC BY-ND. If someone else wants to use your work for personal or financial gain, they may do so under the terms of this license, providing they give you proper credit and don't alter it in any way.
  • The CC BY-Non-Commercial (NC) license allows others to remix, adapt, and develop your work without asking for permission or charging a fee, so long as they follow the exact non-commercial and attribution requirements.
  • CC BY- NonCommercial-ShareAlike (NC-SA) This license allows others to make non-commercial derivative works of your work with the stipulation that they attribute your work appropriately and distribute those works under the same terms as your original.
  • With a CC BY NonCommercial-NoDerivs (ND), users are given the green light to copy and distribute their work in return for a fee; neither altering them in any way nor using them for profit is allowed.

Free-Royalty Music

Free-Royalty Music

You may use copyrighted music with a royalty-free license, eliminating needing to haggle over licensing fees with Performance Rights Organizations (PROs). However, royalty-free music is often not free to use. You must pay the licensing fee once (often as part of your monthly membership to a platform like Artist), and you may use the music indefinitely after that. The benefits of utilizing royalty-free music in a video include the following:

  • Significantly better quality.
  • There are a ton more alternatives.
  • It's simple to locate what you need, thanks to the updated user interface.

Can one get into trouble for using copyrighted music without permission?

You will be imposed with a copyright strike if you use music protected by copyright without a license or authorization. If you violate the terms after that, the platform may deactivate your audio, remove your material, or terminate your account entirely.

Also, you cannot monetize a video that contains music protected by copyright. In some circumstances, YouTube may classify the song as “ad-supported music,” which means the copyright holder will gain from the commercialization of your video. You will never profit financially from plays and traffic, regardless of the situation.

How can you legally use copyrighted music?

Now that you know how to determine whether or not the DMCA protects a song, you may wonder, “What if I want to utilize copyrighted music?” Fortunately, there are a few legal methods to use music that is protected by copyright:

  • When you obtain permission to use copyrighted music in your project.
  • When you want to review, parody, or comment on a piece of music that is subject to copyright protection under the terms of the Fair Use doctrine, in addition, no copyright violation will occur if the music is utilized for educational purposes.
  • If the content is for personal use and you dont intend to monetize or publicize it.

How can you tell if a song you found on YouTube is copyrighted?

Since YouTube is the most popular video streaming site online, it's crucial to ensure that your videos don't infringe on copyrighted music before posting them. To check if music is copyrighted on YouTube, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Log in to your YouTube account

Step 2: Go to YouTube Creator Studio

Step 3: Click Create in the top right corner of your website

Step 4: Click Upload Video

Step 5: After YouTube has finished processing the video, choose Review.

Step 6: Copyright-free songs will have a green checkmark and the message “No issue discovered” to the right of the copyright, whereas songs with copyrights will have a red exclamation mark.

Step 7: Click Confirm to see the copyright in sound recording information.

Can one use a popular song for a cover?

Yes, you can produce your recording (a cover) of an artist's work after its release if you get a mechanical license and pay a mechanical royalty. But, if you want to record a cover to upload it to YouTube in the hopes that it will go viral, you'll need a synchronization license, which allows you to combine the music with visuals.

Where can I get music that doesn't have copyright restrictions?


Audiio is the platform with the most revolutionary music offer in the market due to its extensive music collection, high-quality tracks from the best artists in the world, and ground-breaking proposal.

For a one-time payment of $299, you may purchase a “Lifetime Music license” that gives you permanent access to their entire library of songs and sound effects. For an additional $199 per year, you can purchase an Audiio Pro license to access even more music tracks and sound effects.

Envato Elements is also a good option if you're looking for a site to buy or sell creative assets. Envato has amassed a staggering sixty million digital items since its launch, which keeps rising each week. You will find Images, stock movies, graphics, fonts, sounds, and music on this site.

For just €14.50 per month, you may have access to their extensive music collection to use in your commercial projects.

Epidemic sound has been a pioneer in the royalty-free music industry for over a decade and offers over a hundred thousand unique music tracks of the best quality, divided into songs and sound effects. The ‘EAR' feature allows you to locate music similar to the one you already like in terms of voice and vibes.

Epidemic sound

‘Stems' allows you to remove any instrument from a song, and ‘Find Similar' finds music similar to the one you already like.

If you're looking for a flexible subscription plan, Epidemic Sound has three options to choose from:

  • Individual Plan (13€ a month or 108€ a year), aimed towards podcasters and other content producers who make stuff for their personal use.
  • For a yearly or monthly fee of 228 Euros or $49, you may sign up for the Business Plan, mainly intended for independent producers and businesses who want to use their finished products for profit.
  • A Business Strategy Document is intended for use by organizations like media companies and television and radio stations that need a practical means of doing business.

Lastly, there is Artlist, whose goal is to streamline and lower the cost of purchasing music licenses for any purpose. There are three subscription options available on Artlist:

  • Social Creator, from only €9.99 per year ($119) or €14.99 per month ($22.50
  • The annual fee for Creator Pro is 16.60€.
  • The yearly fee for a team of two is 28.20 euros.

After your membership ends, you may still access any downloaded files and use them in any projects you've created.

How long is the validity period for copyright?

validity period for copyright

A work's copyright term is based on several criteria, including whether or not it has been published and, if so, on the date it was first made available to the public. Protection under copyright laws typically lasts the author's lifetime and 70 years for works produced on or after 1ST January 1978. The copyright for jobs created without an author's name attached to it (known as a “work produced for hire”) remains on until one of two dates: either 95 years after its initial publication or 120 years after its creation.


When copyrights protect songs or albums, their original creators do not want them used without compensation. Usually, acquiring the rights will need a royalty payment. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as when the music is in the public domain and hence does not need a license.

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