Music Copyright

abbey road studio french horn players recording in studio 2 with audio network

Music copyright refers to the extended rights that are granted to the composer or writer of an original song, ditty, track, tune or bed.

It is a legal device that affords the owner the right to copy, distribute, adapt and sell that music.

Copyright laws of the UK

How long does copyright protection last?

Excluding the odd anomaly, any music composed over the last 70 years will be under music copyright.

However, if a composer died more than 70 years ago, then the musical work is no longer under copyright.

Therefore, if you want to use a piece by Bach, Mozart or Beethoven, for example, for a TV show, feature film, commercial or corporate, you don't need a synchronization licence.

That said, sound recording copyright lasts for 50 years after the music is first released and, in what is a very complicated area, different types of music require different rights.

For more information, check out our summary of these rights.

How does copyright work?

Music is automatically copyrighted the moment you create it/document it – even if that means writing it down on a piece of paper. From this moment, your music is protected by laws detailed under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Protect and copyright your music

Are all songs copyrighted?

As original music is automatically under copyright as soon as it’s in a tangible form, all songs are copyrighted – no matter the musical style. As mentioned before, the only exception to this is if the composer died over 70 years ago.

How does copyright music protect your work?

It’s common knowledge that music copyright laws prohibit others from duplicating and adapting music in any way, shape or form, without the owner’s permission. 

But what many may not know is that it also prohibits anyone distributing, renting or lending copies of your work, broadcasting or hosting your work and playing or performing your work in public, without the owner’s permission.  

Can you copyright your music for free?

Music copyright laws apply automatically to all tracks, which also means that your music is copyrighted free of charge. 

Where can I buy copyright music?

You can buy copyright music right here!

Audio Network’s music catalogue offers more than 175,000 specially composed production music tracks that under copyright are licensed, in perpetuity, for TV and multiplatform use all around the world. 

So, no matter if you’re looking for production music for a new radio show, detective series or even a vaudeville-inspired film, we’ve got the track for you. 

Simply use the Audio Network search facility now to find your perfect piece of music. 

What copyright music can I use on YouTube?

Our vast catalogue offers licensed, pre-cleared copyright music tracks that you’re permitted to use on international platforms across the world – including YouTube. Not only do we have tracks suitable for every mood or emotion you’re trying to evoke, we also have solo tracks from specific instruments, including the harmonica, the ukulele and the accordion.

Why should I license music from Audio Network?

For any project, you want your music to be as unique as your content. Licensing music from Audio Network gives you a vast amount of choice of the highest quality original tracks, recorded by artists and composers around the world, which are perfect to use as background music. Explore our page specially dedicated to background music and our instrumentation page for music to accompany all the genres, moods and emotions you’ll ever need.

See also in our Music Glossary:
Needle drop music
Music licensing
Stock music
Music rights
Royalty free music explained

This page was originally published on 08/12/2015 and updated on 17/07/2020

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