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Using Music

Avoid using copyrighted music without permission

Most musicians, especially popular musicians, hold the copyright, or ownership rights, to their music. This means that the musician or creator maintains the right to decide if and when their music is used in a movie, TV show, or advertisement, etc. If someone wants to use a song in their movie, they must get permission from the musician before using the song (simply giving credit is not enough). This permission is often granted with the agreement to pay a licensing fee. The more popular the music, the more money will be expected to use the song. 


Creative Commons and public domain music

Some music was recorded or published long enough in the past that the music is outside of copyright, or in the public domain. Other artists publish their music under a Creative Commons license, which generally means anyone is welcome to use their music, but many artists do ask to be given credit.



These sites offer music in the public domain or licensed under Creative Commons which can be used in video and media projects:

  • Bensound: Tracks on this site may be downloaded and used for free with attribution to the creator and no remixes.
  • ccMixter: Offers a variety of music tracks under a Creative Commons license.
  • Free Music Archive: FMA has music tracks under Creative Commons licenses and public domain. Music can be searched by mood, genre, tempo, and length.
  • Musopen: Historical music in the public domain, browseable by composer, time period, instrument, and form.
  • PublicDomain4U: Historical music in the public domain, searchable by genre.
Ms. Elizabeth Gartley | Daniel F. Mahoney Middle School | 240 Ocean Street | South Portland, Maine | 04106 | Tel: 207-799-7386