Using Copyrighted and Library Content

Find out how you can legally and ethically use copyrighted and library content in your academic research, instruction, essays & writings, and creative projects. Legal disclaimer: this copyright guide is meant for informational & educational purposes only.

Library Research Guide

Using Music in Videos


This page and its subpages will guide you through how to legally reuse others' music in your video projects. It will also provide information and resource on what to do if you video is flagged for copyright infringement due to the use of copyrighted music.

Steps to Follow when Reusing Others' Music

When you are considering using music in your video, you may be using a clip or using an entire song to complement your audiovisual materials. The world of copyright and music licensing is a complex system, but you can follow these simple steps and use the resources provided on each subpage to find the perfect music for your video.

Consider the options below, preferably in sequential order. As you move down the list, you will find that the options require more steps and potentially more license fees to comply with U.S. copyright law. Each step has its own subpage, which is linked in the list below and on the left-hand navigation menu.

  1. Finding or recording music in the public domain;
  2. Finding music that has a Creative Commons License (i.e., the copyright holder allows for generous reuse of their music).
  3. Finding and understanding royalty-free music.
  4. How to rely on fair use when using popular copyrighted music;
  5. How to obtain the necessary license or permission when using copyrighted music.

Finally, even if you are complying with the law, sometimes your video can get flagged for copyright infringement. You can file a counter-notification with big-name video platforms, such as YouTube and Vimeo. Read more about this on the Video Flagged for Copyright Infringement page.