“I Do Not Own the Rights to This Music”

Martin Kristiansen

Martin Kristiansen

My name is Martin Kristiansen and I’m the founder and chief editor of HomeStudioIdeas.com. I’ve been playing, recording and producing music for the last 10 years.

You’ve undoubtedly seen the caption “I do not own the rights to this music” on videos on social media. The purpose is to not take credit for someone else’s work. But is disclaiming ownership a valid clause to get out of copyright infringement? The short and definite answer is no. Read on to learn more about the topic!

Keep in mind that I’m not a copyright lawyer. If you’re in doubt or don’t understand the licenses of the music that you’re using, always contact a lawyer.

The rule is pretty simple. If you want to use copyrighted music in your Youtube videos, Facebook/Instagram clips, or social media posts, you’ll need permission from the owner to use it. In other words, it’s NOT enough to add the caption “I do not own the rights to this music”.

So what if I can’t get permission to use the music? Well, then you might have to drop the idea of using that particular song in your video.

Admitting You Don’t Own The Music Is Not The Same As Having Permission To Actually Use It

By writing “I do not own the rights to this music” in your video descriptions, you’re doing nothing more than admitting to copyright infringement. 

Sharing copyrighted music without permission on social media, Youtube channels, or other websites can result in more than just some angry letters. The consequences can be devastating if you have thousands of views or have been doing it to a large extent. 

As an example, Youtube employs a robust copyright system called Content ID that helps music owners protect their work. A couple of different courses of action that can happen if you violate their copyright system include:

  • Demonetization of your video on Youtube 
  • Cease and desist letters from copyright lawyers
  • Litigation from the copyright owner
  • Account termination

How To Tell If a Song Is Copyrighted?

Nowadays, it’s safe to assume that every song under the sun is copyrighted and not free to use unless you have a license. Still, there are some exceptions when you can use a song without permission. Some tracks may not be subject to copyright if they are:

  • Older and in the public domain
  • Royalty-free tracks
  • Under creative commons

Older Songs Under the Public Domain

Sometimes when songs are old enough, they’ll enter something called the public domain. They can then be considered public and free from copyright. Don’t expect any modern hits to end up in the public domain anytime soon. In fact, this can only happen after 70 years:

  1. The song in relation to the publishing rights expires 70 years after the death of the writer.
  2. The sound recording in relation to the mastering rights expires 70 years after the recording was released.

Don’t expect every song to end up in the public domain though. This only happens if copyright owners don’t renew their licenses.

Royalty-Free Tracks

As the name suggests, royalty-free tracks are songs free from royalties. That doesn’t mean that you can use them without permission though. It simply means that you don’t have to pay for an ongoing license and you don’t have to pay the owner every time someone watches your videos.

The benefit of royalty-free tracks is that you usually only have to pay once to get your hands on the song, and you don’t have to pay the owner any royalties. So where do I find royalty-free tracks? On a royalty-free music website of course.

Note that some royalty-free music websites can be more limited, where you only can use the song for a limited period of time or on a certain amount of projects.

Songs Under Creative Commons Licenses

A creative commons license means that you can use the song in your videos, but only if certain conditions are met. For example:

  • You have to give credit to the owner
  • You won’t be able to make edits
  • You won’t use them for commercial use

Writing “I do not own the rights to this music” in the video description is not enough to be able to use songs under a creative commons license. You have to give your viewers information about who the artist or songwriter is. You should always double-check the requirements before using songs under creative common licenses in your videos. There is no “one size fits all”.


Writing “I do not own the rights to this music” doesn’t give you the right to use copyrighted music on your videos on social media, Youtube, or website. Technically, it’s a meaningless statement to add to your video descriptions. Violating copyright laws is a crime and can result in some serious penalties, and you should always double-check what rights you have to share a specific song.

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