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

Find & Use Music in Your YouTube Videos


This page will introduce you to how to incorporate music in your videos on YouTube.

The first section in this box will give you pointers to use music on YouTube that is available in collections that hold a combination of Creative Commons Licensed and royalty-free music.

The second section will help you with legally using popular music that has specific copyright license agreements assigned by the copyright holders on YouTube. These agreements essentially grant YouTube users the right to use their music in their YouTube videos so long as they comply with the terms and conditions.

This is the fourth subpage and fourth step to using music in videos in a legal and ethical manner.

Creative Commons Licensed (CCL) & Royalty-Free Music on YouTube

These collections include CCL and royalty-free music and sound effects on YouTube. You must be signed into Google/YouTube in order to access the Audio Library. Each song will give a description and information about what you can legally do with the song. All of the songs in these collections are either CCL or royalty-free, so you have a significant amount of freedom in using these songs in your own videos and projects.

Note: music included here is not popular or well-known music.

Using Popular Music on YouTube

A growing number of music copyright holders have sharing policies on YouTube, which means that you can use their listed musical works in a YouTube video, so long as you comply with their policy.

The video below will explain how to find popular music on YouTube that can potentially be used in your videos, how to check if a musical work can be viewable worldwide on YouTube, and how to get more information on the monetization status of the musical work.

This video will also give tips for finding CCL and royalty-free music; information and links to specific CCL and royalty-free music resources can be found on the Creative Commons and Royalty-Free subpages, respectively.

Note: Epidemic Sound is specific to using royalty-free music on YouTube. There are a number of other resources for finding royalty-free music, and they are not specific to YouTube. See the Royalty-Free subpage for more resources and information.

Example of a Popular Song Used Legally in a YouTube Video

The video below includes the song Perthshire Amber, Movement 1, by Dougie Maclean. It is a copyrighted work of music and is considered a popular tune in folk music.

This song's copyright policy on YouTube allows for the tune to be uploaded on YouTube and will play in any country in the world. See the screenshot below to understand how the information will display on the YouTube Music Policies Directory.

YouTube Policy for Perthshire Amber

Each song included on the YouTube Music Policies Directory has a different policy; this particular song included in this video has a very liberal policy. Be sure to check a song's policy before uploading it to YouTube, and be sure you have a legal copy of the song you are using.

Finding Legal Alternatives to Including Music in YouTube Videos

If you want to use a musical work not listed in the YouTube Musical Works & Policies directory or your use does not comply with their current policies, you will either need to:

  • Rely on fair use;
    • See the Fair Use subpage of this guide for more information.
  • Obtain a synchronization (sync) license.

If your video does get flagged for copyright infringement, that does not necessarily mean it is infringing someone else's copyright. Read the Video Flagged for Copyright Infringement subpage for more information about the next steps you can take to appeal and have your video reinstated.