No more copyright warnings: how to use indie music for your videos

If you make youtube videos and “borrow” music that you buy on itunes for your background music, chances are you get unsettling notices like the one below that I got from youtube:

If you’re like me, you find these notices unnerving because you worry about being regarded as a copyright infringer by youtube, getting a future copyright strike against you, or even having your video suddenly taken down if the copyright holder changes its policy regarding infringement.

Here’s how youtube works its copyright check: It has an enormous database containing all the music submitted by registered companies and artists. For every video posted on youtube, it performs a search to see if that video matches any of the third party content registered in its database. When it finds a match, it checks the copyright holder’s instructions on what to do, and then does it. Many times, it’s just a warning like the one above. But other times, it can be a more severe action like taking your video down or even disabling your account (don’t expect any advance warning). Read the horror stories in the youtube forum here about lost youtube videos, disabled accounts, and endless appeals. And then go to youtube’s “Copyright School” here (P.S. It’s free and very much worth your time).

Watch the fascinating youtube video here where youtube’s Margaret Gould Stewart talks about how youtube looks at copyright. A guarantee:  it won’t be what you think! They actually encourage it – sorta! According to Stewart, youtube hosts 100 YEARS of new video every day! Can you imagine. That’s a lifetime of human activity recorded every day. Despite that large amount of video, youtube’s screening process takes a matter of seconds. Amazing. In the video she encourages copyright holders to be lenient in their policies since youtube exposure can actually boost an artist’s sales and recognition.

But the bottom line is: if a copyright holder registered at youtube complains, your video is history til the matter is sorted out. No questions asked. And usually no notice given til your video disappears. And after that, if you disagree, you’ve got a long appeal ticket process.

So I’ve decided indie music is the way to go. These are artists featured on many indie websites who actually like you to use their music. That’s what they put it up for. As long as you credit them, they’re pleased as punch that they’re getting heard through your videos. Using their music on your videos is one of those rare win-win situations.

In my latest machinima here, I used indie music that I have grown to like a lot. I imported it into itunes and even listen to it sometimes as background music while I work.

Here are the songs and two of the best music sharing websites I’ve discovered: ccMixter and Jamendo. Each site and each song below is a real gem. A warning: you’ll find so much incredible music on these sites that you can spend hours doing this. You’ll also find a lot of dreadful stuff. It’s a sorting process, but well worth it.

“It’s Just a Matter of Time” by Salvatore_J, vocals by Shannon Hurley (ccMixter music sharing website)
“Give Me Time” by Code:Again (Jamendo music sharing website)
“Auld Lang Syne” traditional tune, words by Robert Burns, sung by Jim Tait
(Jamendo music sharing website)

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