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What to do if you accidentally use copyrighted music?

Published on | Updated on | 12 min reading time
What to do if you accidentally use copyrighted music?

Holding a degree in Business Administration and Programming, Pablo established Legis Music in 2016. With a focus on the royalty-free music industry, he has contributed extensively to the field, authoring over 150 articles on various aspects of music licensing. His efforts have been instrumental in developing one of the most straightforward and liberal music licensing frameworks available today.

Key Takeaways

  • If you accidentally use copyrighted music, cease its reproduction or distribution right away. On platforms like YouTube, save the video as a draft or delete it until the issue is resolved.
  • Identify the Copyright holder: Research to find out who legally owns the rights to the music. This can be done through online platforms where the music was sourced or by examining the music track’s provided information.
  • Research to find out who legally owns the rights to the music. This can be done through online platforms where the music was sourced or by examining the music track’s provided information.
  • Contact the copyright holder: Reach out to the copyright holder to explain the situation and seek permission to use the music. Keep records of all communications.
  • Explore licensing options: If the copyright holder is open to discussion, understand the licensing terms and conditions they offer for using their music legally.
  • Consider Royalty-Free music alternatives: If obtaining permission is not feasible, use royalty-free music instead. Websites like Epidemic Sound offer a vast library of songs and sound effects under different subscription plans.
  • Prevent future problems: Use licensed or royalty-free music, create original compositions, utilize public domain music properly, and ensure correct attribution. Keeping detailed records of music usage and seeking legal advice when necessary can help avoid future copyright issues.
  • Legal and ethical considerations: Respecting music copyrights is crucial for fair compensation to creators and avoiding legal troubles. It’s important to understand and comply with copyright laws to maintain integrity in creative projects.

Not just any music can be used in audiovisual projects, only royalty-free or licensed music .

Using copyrighted music without authorization can have serious consequences, both legal and financial.

copyright icon However, you have probably found yourself in the situation where you have used it by mistake.

Here are the steps you need to take to take appropriate action and resolve the situation.

Steps to remedy accidental use of copyrighted music

  1. Stop the reproduction or distribution

As soon as you realize that you are using copyrighted music without authorization, stop playing or distributing the work immediately.

In the case of YouTube, you should save the video in drafts for when you fix the problem, or delete it outright.

This will help prevent further copyright infringement.

  1. Identify the copyright holder

This involves determining who has the legal rights to the work.

You can do this by researching online, checking with the platforms where you obtained the music, or reviewing the information provided on the music track.

  1. Contact the copyright holder

Once you have identified the copyright holder, it is essential to communicate with them in a respectful manner and explain the situation.

youtube icon If you receive a copyright claim notice on YouTube, the name of the person who made the claim will appear on the notice itself, so you can contact them.

Often, the copyright holder will prefer to resolve the problem amicably rather than take legal action.

You can ask for permission to use the music or, if necessary, inquire about licensing fees and terms of use.

Be sure to keep a record of all communications.

This way, if you reach an agreement with the rights holder to use their music, it will be recorded via messages.

  1. Explore licensing options and authorized use

If the copyright holder is willing to work with you, it is important to understand the licensing options and specific terms that must be followed to use the music legally.

Some songs may be available through licensed music libraries, and others may require customized licensing agreements.

  1. Consider using royalty-free music

If you can’t get permission from the copyright holder or can’t meet their terms, consider remaking your video or project using royalty-free music.

This music is available for a reduced cost use under certain conditions, and is found in online libraries that offer music without copyright restrictions.

One of the best known and most widely used portals for this purpose is Epidemic Sound .

Epidemic Sound

Epidemic Sound exclusively owns the rights to all the music in its library of over 100,000 songs and sound effects.

This allows them to offer a subscription with a direct license that includes all the rights necessary to securely publish content.

One account - be it a channel, profile, page or social network - can be used per platform.

sound iconIn this way, content published with their songs will be on what they call a “safe list” as long as an active subscription is in place.

Even if the subscription has ended, content created and published within your active period will remain on the safe list.

It not only has your songs sorted by genre, mood, albums… But it also has several tools that make the user experience really convenient and fast.

Many content creators benefit both from avoiding all the problems arising from copyright infringement that we discussed above, as well as the quality of their music.

So much so that if you decide to sign up for a plan with them, you can be sure that they will keep you up to date with any legal changes in the territory in which you reside, and even as a company you can opt to have a manager on their own team to help you clean up your content from potential copyright claims.

Special music tools

These search tools are:

  • “SOUNDMATCH”. Soundmatch lets you go from an idea for a video, a rough cut, a clip, to magically discovering the perfect soundtrack for your project in a matter of seconds. Simply upload your video and get matching music recommendations in no-time. Soundmatch analyzes your video’s tone, mood, and rhythm, delivering a curated selection of soundtracks that takes your video to the next level. With Epidemic Sounds AI-powered Soundmatch feature, soundtracking like a pro has never been easier.
  • “EAR”. Epidemic Audio Reference is a tool that has been added very recently that allows you to select a fragment of a song from your extensive music playlist and automatically displays other songs that are based on it: with similar rhythms, tone of voice… A quick and easy way to find similar royalty-free music. If you want to know more, we have an article that explains in depth how it works.
  • “Find similar”. This function tries to find music tracks and background sounds that fall into the same category or have the same tags.
  • “Stems” is a tool through which you can be more creative in the design of the song you need, as it allows the possibility of eliminating vocals or instruments to your liking, adapting the music to your needs.
  • “More of what you like” offers you music recommendations based on the songs you have recently downloaded from Epidemic Sound.

In addition to these, there are also the “Clear videos” and “Clearing invitations” options, which are ideal for agencies or freelancers who create videos for their clients. If you want to know more about how they work, we recommend this article on our website.

Clear Videos and clearing invitations

The platform has a tool specially designed to avoid copyright claims, called “clear videos”.

Through “clear videos” you can literally clear your own videos -or those of your clients- of copyright claims to avoid the whole process of justifying the use of the music afterwards.

doppler icon This is achieved very easily: once you have an account in Epidemic Sound and have requested the Commercial Plan (which we will talk about later), in the control panel you must add in the “clear videos” section the exact URL of the video that has been uploaded to YouTube.

And then you don’t have to worry about anything else.

They also offer “clearing invitations”, with which any user of the Commercial Plan can send individual invitations to their customers to participate in the platform and can take care of clearing their videos themselves.

doppler icon

However, you will be able to enjoy these advantages if you have, as we said, one of their subscription plans:

Epidemic Sound Subscription Plans.

Epidemic has two payment plans tailored to the needs of the user, depending on whether they are companies or freelancers.

For companies, agencies and freelancers it offers its “Commercial” Plan, through which you can:

  • Download unlimited music with all rights included.
  • Use that music in online ads, as well as in any social network.
  • Get personalized music recommendations.
  • Possibility to protect client videos from copyright claims, or even do it themselves.

The cost varies depending on whether the monthly payment or the annual payment in advance is chosen. If you choose the first option, the cost is $49 per month.

However, if you opt for the annual payment, the price is reduced to $19 per month, totaling $228 per year, which represents a saving of more than 50% on the final price.

On the other hand, for Youtubers or content creators Epidemic Sound has a “Personal” Plan, with which you can enjoy:

  • Download unlimited music with all rights included.
  • Use the music for videos or podcasts with the ability to publish to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok and podcast platforms.
  • Select a full music track or download only the vocal or instrumental part.
  • Use the music in sponsored or branded content for your own channels.
  • Access the Epidemic Sound mobile app.

This plan, if you want to pay monthly, is priced at $13 per month. However, Epidemic Sound offers the possibility of paying $108 per year in advance - that is, $9 per month - which means a saving of $4 per month compared to the month-to-month payment option.

This year I’ve partnered with Epidemic Sound to offer you an exclusive discount on their music service.

Get access to TWO MONTHS of free music and sounds by clicking on the link below.

The discount is valid for the Personal Plan and the offer will be available for 5 days only!

So make sure you don’t miss out on this unique offer and Epidemic Sound’s diverse music catalog:

After the 5 days you can still sign up through the link and get a 30 day free trial. Without a doubt, Epidemic Sound is a portal that continuously reforms and updates its products, adapting to the needs of all users, guaranteeing an excellent user experience.

Importance of respecting music copyrights

Respecting copyright in music is essential to ensure a fair balance between music creators and those who wish to use their work.

Doing so recognizes and rewards the efforts and creativity of artists, composers and music producers.

In addition, using copyrighted music without proper authorization can have serious legal consequences and reputational damage.

The copyright owner of a song has the exclusive right to control how his or her work is used.

copyright holder icon If someone uses copyrighted music without proper authorization, the copyright holder can file a copyright claim.

This could result in the removal of the content that uses the music without authorization from online platforms, such as YouTube or SoundCloud.

In addition, the copyright holder could seek damages.

Reputational and career impact

In addition to the legal implications, unauthorized use of copyrighted music can damage the reputation of individuals, companies and creative projects.

legal icon Copyright holders may publicize infringement, which could affect the public’s perception of the infringer’s integrity and ethics.

This is especially important for artists, content creators and companies, as reputation is a valuable asset in the creative industry.

Therefore, it is critical to know and respect copyright in music to avoid these negative consequences and maintain the integrity of creative projects and careers in the music industry.

Tips to prevent future problems

Preventing future problems related to the use of music in creative projects is essential to ensure a smooth process and avoid legal consequences.

Here are key tips for maintaining the legality and integrity of your projects:

  • Use licensed music. Whenever possible, use music that is available through legitimate sources that offer commercial music licenses. This will allow you to obtain high-quality, appropriate music for your project with proper rights and permissions. One example is Epidemic Sound. We also recommend that you take a look at our licenses, which give you unlimited lifetime access to a large number of royalty-free songs.
  • Creating original music. Consider working with composers or musicians to create original music that is perfectly suited to your project. Original music is a great way to ensure that there are no copyright issues.
  • Use public domain music. If you decide to use public domain music, make sure that the work is actually in the public domain and not subject to copyright. Some works may have fallen into the public domain, but others may still be protected.
  • Proper attribution and tracking. If you use music under a license that requires attribution, be sure to provide the necessary attribution as directed by thecopyright or license holder. This includes mentioning the author and any other specified information. Also, keep a detailed record of all the music tracks you use in your projects, along with the corresponding licenses or agreements. This will make it easier to manage and track copyrights and licenses in the future.
  • Legal advice. If you have questions about copyright or need specific advice about the use of music in a major project, consider consulting with an intellectual property attorney. This will help you make informed decisions and avoid legal problems.

Investing in an understanding of copyright and the proper use of music can protect your creations and your reputation in the long run.


In this article, we have explored a common concern in the creative world: what to do if you accidentally use copyrighted music without proper authorization.

As key aspects, we highlight:

  • The importance of respecting copyright in music: This is essential to maintain a fair balance between music creators and those who wish to use their work. Copyright protects creativity, encourages innovation and recognizes the value of music as a form of artistic expression.
  • Steps to remedy accidental use of copyrighted music: From stopping unauthorized reproduction to identifying the copyright holder and seeking appropriate licenses, accessing licensed music platforms such as Epidemic Sound or Legis Music.
  • Tips to prevent future problems: We have highlighted the importance of prevention, including using licensed music, creating original music, considering public domain music, proper attribution and seeking legal advice when necessary. These tips can help you avoid future problems and maintain the integrity of your creative projects.

In summary, respecting copyright in music is essential to maintaining a legally sound creative environment.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have used copyrighted music without authorization, it is important to address it properly.

In addition, prevention and the use of appropriate remedies will help you avoid future problems and protect your projects and your reputation in the creative industry.


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