How to Clear a Copyright Claim with Unchained Music

Unchained Best Tips
Updated on
July 25, 2023
Written by
Unchained Music
ARTICLE OVERVIEW
Learn about streaming platforms' stringent copyright rules, different music licenses, and how to use sample libraries.

The New Reality of Streaming Platforms

In an era where streaming platforms are growing more stringent about copyright infringement, artists need to pay meticulous attention to clearing samples and tracks not created by them. This growing wave has affected many aspiring and established artists in the music industry. Platforms like Unchained Music require artists to maintain a clean record regarding copyright issues.

Understanding Copyright Claims from Unchained Music

Releasing a track on a music platform like Unchained Music is a process that requires adhering to copyright laws and regulations, as we are obligated to ensure that all of our users have the rights to the material they release. This focus on legality ensures that all artists involved are recognized for their creative efforts. 

What a Copyright Strike Looks Like

If your track has copyrighted material detected during the upload process, you will receive an email and a note that tells you there is a copyright issue, the date it was detected, and at least one of the samples that we have detected. That notice will look something like this:

2023-07-21:

Copyright infringement notice. Multiple third-party samples detected against, but not limited to, the following existing content:

Artist: Intro to Music Theory

Album title: First Inversion

Track: The California Almond

In order to proceed with distribution, please provide the proper mechanical licenses, sample licenses purchased or explicit permissions that display you hold the rights to distribute this content digitally.  

Here are some specific copyright-related reasons why a track might receive this notice or face rejection upon release:

Unauthorized Use of Samples

Overview

If your track contains samples from other artists' works, including fx, sound effects, spoken word acapellas, etc. without obtaining the necessary permissions or licenses, it can be rejected due to copyright infringement. This applies whether the sample is a small loop, one-shot, or a substantial part of the track.

Solution

If you used a sample from another artist’s work, you need to contact that artist and get a license from them that gives you the permission to use the sample, as well as permission to distribute the track and claim royalties on it. Upload that into the copyright section of your release by clicking “edit release”. 

Reused Beats Claimed by Others

Overview

Using beats that have been previously claimed by other artists without obtaining the necessary permissions can lead to copyright issues. If a beat is exclusive to another artist and used without authorization, your track will likely be rejected. This includes “free for profit” beats, as often, producers using these beats will claim ownership on YouTube’s Content ID system, even if the video or license tells them not to. 

Solution

Document the location of the beat that you used with a link to the video or sample, and upload that into the copyright section of your release by clicking “edit release”. 

Unlicensed Remixes or Covers

Overview

Remixing a track or covering a song without the necessary licenses - like a mechanical license for covers or a derivative work license for remixes - can lead to rejection. You must obtain these licenses from the original rights holders before releasing such tracks. You cannot do this without the right’s holders permission. 

Solution

In the case of a cover, you’ll need to pay for and get a mechanical license from somewhere such as Easy Song Licensing. In the case of a remix, you’ll need both a mechanical license from Easy Song Licensing, and permission directly from the rights holder. You’ll need to reach out to the artist or record label directly and tell them you want to make a remix of their track, then negotiate with them. Once you have the appropriate license(s), upload it into the copyright section of your release by clicking “edit release”.

Unauthorized Use of Sped Up or Slowed Down Tracks

Overview

Modifying a track's speed does not circumvent copyright laws. If you slow down or speed up someone else's music without their permission, your track can still be flagged for copyright infringement and thus be rejected. At Unchained Music, we do not look kindly on this, and it may result in your account being banned. You cannot do this without the right’s holders permission. 

Solution

You’ll need the same licenses as a remix in order to distribute this track— a mechanical and derivative works license. Once you have these, you’ll need to upload them into your copyright documentation section of the release. 

Mashups Without Proper Licenses

Overview

Creating a mashup, which combines elements from multiple songs into a single track, requires obtaining proper permissions from all original rights holders. Without these, your mashup can be rejected due to copyright infringement. You cannot do this without the right’s holders permission. 

Solution

You’ll need mechanical licenses from both works, as well as derivative works licenses, and most likely master recording licenses. It is extremely hard to clear Mashups correctly, and we almost always reject these outright during the distribution process.

Using Samples from Sample Libraries

Overview

When using samples from libraries like BandLab, Loopcloud, Splice, various DAWs etc., it's important to provide accurate documentation, including a link to the sample, and the fact that you’ve purchased it if applicable. Incomplete or inaccurate documentation can lead to track rejection. 

Solution

If using BandLab, stock samples in a DAW, or a similar software, it is usually enough to tell us that you’ve used that software and upload a statement that says so within the copyright section of the upload form. If you’re using sample packs from paid libraries, please make sure that you link directly to the samples that you used, and upload that in the copyright documentation section.

While we cannot promise that we’ll always be able to clear your release if you have a copyright warning, we will do our best, as long as we believe that you have the legal right to use the music and samples you’re uploading. 

The Constraints on Modifying Tracks and Mashups

The world of digital music often sees innovative methods of engaging with songs, with slowed down and sped up versions of original tracks becoming increasingly popular. However, these alterations are not exempt from the rules of copyright. Releasing a slowed down or sped up track without securing permission from the original copyright owner is considered copyright infringement. Even if these alterations seem minor or merely artistic interpretations, they essentially reuse the creative content of another artist without due credit or permission. This stands as a clear violation of copyright laws and principles, highlighting the significance of seeking necessary permissions before releasing such tracks.

The importance of adhering to copyright laws extends to the realm of mashups as well. Creating mashups, a process that involves mixing different tracks together to produce a unique sound, is a creative endeavor that showcases an artist's ability to blend various musical elements seamlessly. Nevertheless, without proper licensing, releasing mashups can infringe upon the copyrights of the original tracks used. This underscores the principle that every piece of music, no matter how significantly it's altered or repurposed, warrants recognition and respect for its original creators. In essence, copyright laws aren't just legal mandates, but a means of fostering an ethical, respectful, and balanced music industry where creativity thrives without infringing on the rights of others.

Resubmitting Your Track to Unchained Music

Upon resolving the copyright issues and securing the necessary licenses, you can resubmit your track to Unchained Music by clicking “edit release” and uploading the necessary documentation. The review and approval process for resubmitted tracks typically takes between 3 to 7 days before they can be pushed to stores, which is why this documentation should be submitted uplon the first upload whenever possible. 

Best Practices for Avoiding Copyright Issues

Navigating the legal landscape of the music industry can be complex, but adhering to some best practices can help artists avoid potential copyright issues when uploading to Unchained Music.

Understand Copyright Laws

Make an effort to learn about basic copyright laws. This knowledge is a crucial first step in protecting your rights and respecting the rights of others.

Create Original Content

The most direct way to avoid copyright issues is to create completely original work. If every part of your track - from the lyrics to the melody, from the harmony to the beats - is your creation, you minimize the risk of copyright infringement.

Obtain Necessary Permissions and Music Licenses

If you're using someone else's work, whether it's a sample, a beat, or an entire melody, always get permission from the copyright owner. This often involves obtaining a specific type of license, depending on how you plan to use the music.

Use Royalty-Free Music or Licensed Sample Libraries

There are many sources of music and samples that are cleared for commercial use, like royalty-free music libraries or licensed sample libraries (such as BandLab, Loopcloud, Splice, etc.). These resources can be a safe way to enhance your tracks without running into copyright issues.

Properly Document Sample Usage

If you are using samples in your music, make sure to document each sample's source and the permissions you have obtained. This documentation could be vital in clearing potential copyright claims.

Be Wary of “Fair Use” Misconceptions

While "fair use" is a concept in copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission, it is often misinterpreted. It's safer not to rely on "fair use" unless you've received legal advice confirming your situation applies.

Avoid Using “Free for Profit” Beats

While at one time these tracks may have been unclaimed, the vast majority have been registered with places like YouTube Content ID, and will be extremely difficult to clear. It’s easier to buy a cheap beat or to create your own. 

Strategic Planning for Track Release

To circumvent potential delays, it's recommended to upload your track at least 3 to 4 weeks ahead of time. This gives you ample leeway to address any potential copyright issues that might surface, ensuring a smoother and faster track release.

In conclusion, navigating copyright issues can seem daunting, especially with platforms becoming more meticulous about copyright policies. However, by understanding how to clear a copyright claim with Unchained Music and the different music licenses required, you can share your music with the world, legally and ethically. Remember, adhering to copyright laws not only respects the hard work of original creators but also fortifies your reputation in the music industry, letting your talent shine without legal hindrances.

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