Previously, I covered the question “Why Can’t I Play Music on My Podcast?”
Today, I just want to clarify another misnomer I have often heard, and that is about “Fair Use.” It will usually have the form of “It’s OK if I only play 15 or 20 seconds of an song, right?”
Now, again, before I get into this tricky question, permit me to begin this answer using this type of legally important statement.
I am not only a lawyer. I do not offer legal counsel. The information I am providing here shouldn’t be considered as legal services. I am only offering this as my perspective with this topic. If you wish to know the legal side with this issue, I urge to discover a qualified attorney as part of your locality.
OK, seeing that has been covered, ok, i’ll get back to the question, “Can I Play Music Under Fair Use Rules?”
This is really a term in which you are permitted to play a restricted amount of copyrighted music without specific permissions from the copyright holders. But, this is often a vague rule and is particularly often interpreted while on an individual basis. You will not be positive about this if you what you’re doing is legal or you cannot until AFTER you are delivered to court plus a judge rules with your individual case.
Yes, it’s that vague…
In a nutshell, here are a few factors that may work as part of your favor…
One, is in the event you are doing evaluation some sort. Let’s say your podcast blogs about the latest music releases something like that. You are probably OK to experience a short (and I mean very short) snippet of music to debate. Let’s say a drum solo most of way from the song. Something like that “might be OK.” Notice – I said “might.” Not that it IS OK.
When delivered to court, if this describes all the copyright holder is wearing you, it is going to probably go well available for you. But then, you have to look at the cost involved simply to be approved to learn that little 20-30 second clip of music. It probably would have been cheaper to simply purchase the copyright. I mean, lawyer and hips, time involved. Travel, depositions, etc.
“Well, brother Bob, I’m a small podcaster and I don’t possess that many people following me. Surely, they’ll not waste their time chasing after me, right?”
When you initially start out, chances are you’ll just have a few followers. But there is no podcaster I am aware of these doesn’t follow their download numbers which is always dreaming about more. What happens if, few months from now, your podcast goes viral?
Every subscriber has access to all your episodes. If one of such just is one from the artists inside music on the podcast, they can decide to see in case you are actually paying their royalty fee. They earned it. It is portion of their income. You are legally instructed to pay it.
In this situation, because from the number of downloads you could have now received, a legal court “could” hold you accountable for damages. How much? (Again, inside my best lawyer voice… that will depend… ).
If you’re a private, non-commercial podcaster who has been truly acting in good faith rather than trying to market the song, brand the song, etc. You could basically fined about $500. But – it’s up beyond this concept!
If you had been using it a poster endeavor, such as section of your coaching program, etc., the fines may be up to $150,000 if not more.
And allow me to add, that is certainly $150,000 PER SONG!
In certain instances, the courts have determined there is usually a fine PER EPISODE the song played in!
Now, I’ll simply use my podcast, “The Kingdom Cross Roads Podcast,” as one example. For the record, I use music that I hold the rights to. But, let’s just say I picked a song from of the most popular groups and used a shorter 30 second clip within the open and close. That is two uses in each episode. I have over 900 episodes. That is 1,800 uses.
Even at $500 fine per use, (the bottom end with the fine spectrum) I would be checking out $900,000 in fines if I was discovered guilty of willfully violating the copyright and royalty laws. I am not saying here is the fine I would receive. But here is the amount I could possibly be facing if I was delivered to court and found doing willfully violating legislation.
This is the reason why, for my podcast training clients, I emphasize how important it really is to pick the rights make use of the music when coming up with their intro’s and outro’s. Or make use of “Royalty Free Music” which you do the same thing from the platforms offering that music. KEEP THE LICENSES on file! Just in case.