Copyright FAQ

What is Copyright?


A copyright is a form of legal protection for original works of authorship, such as literary works, musical works, artistic works, and software. It gives the creator of the work the exclusive right to control the use of their work for a specified period of time. This includes the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and make derivatives of the work.

Copyright law helps to ensure that creators are fairly compensated for their work and that their creations are protected against unauthorized use.

What are my obligations as an artist?


When using Unchained Music, you are required to comply with applicable copyright law.

You should not distribute any material without having permission to do so. This includes samples or beats that are used without permission, visuals used in the creation of your cover art, or covering or arranging a song without permission.

If you use another artist’s work, you will need to provide the appropriate license during the music distribution process for Unchained Music, or else your release may be flagged and not uploaded.

Why does copyright matter?


Copyright law allows musicians to control how their works are used and ensures that they are fairly compensated for their use. This includes the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, and make derivative works based on their original work.

If you had a hit song, and someone took it, claimed it as their own, and started performing it, you’d be mad, right? Copyright law helps prevent that from happening, and gives legal recourse to the creator when someone else is in violation of the law.

What happens if my track is flagged for unlicensed use?


If your track is flagged for unlicensed use of a sample or musical work, please provide the licensing documents that were given to you in the document upload section of your release. If you don’t have these documents, you probably don’t have the right to use the samples or work that was flagged.

What is your repeat infringement policy?


Unchained Music takes copyright violations seriously because we want to protect the rights of all creators. If you try to upload an infringing work and fail to provide the necessary documents for your use of that work, we will take down your release and apply a mark to your user account.

Users with a history of marks and continued infringement will be suspended from the platform without recourse. We may also suspend, confiscate, or freeze your royalties as explained in our terms of service.

Please respect other creators and get permission if you want to use their material!

What type of rights do I need to release with Unchained Music?


You need to have worldwide rights on everything that you intend to distribute through our distribution platform. That includes all music, lyrics, and instrumental/vocal performances.

If you don’t have these rights, we won’t be able to deliver your work.

What about samples?


Look, we love samples. They’re a staple of the industry.

That being said, using a sample from Whitney Houston without permission isn’t legal.

Recordings from public domain are okay, as are samples from marketplaces such as Splice that give you a worldwide license to use their samples commercially.

If you’re sampling anything else, please get written permission to use the sample commercially from the rights holder, and upload that documentation during your upload process.

What is public domain?


Generally, music joins the public domain 70 years after the death of the original composer, and is fair game to sample at that point. Additionally, any US government-issued communication is public domain. Feel free to sample public domain content in your music.

When do I need to provide licenses for my music?


Unchained Music requires a license agreement and potentially a proof of purchase for any third-party content that you use in your releases.

This content can include beats from beat marketplaces, free beats from Youtube (yes, even if they’re marked as ‘free’), remixes, and samples from other artists.

Unchained Music also requires verification for some high-profile artists and collaborations to verify the correct use of that artist’s likeness. High-profile artist profiles can be protected by the streaming platforms themselves.

What information do I need to provide in my licenses?


Licenses should be provided in PDF format, and include the following:

• Your name and the name of the party giving you permission
• The name of the work being used
• How long the license is valid
• The rights regarding digital sales and downloads
• The rights for commercial-use streaming

Please send this information as part of the release process so there’s no delay in releasing your music!

What about platforms such as SoundTrap that provide royalty-free samples and loops?


Generally, the terms and conditions for marketplaces that provide these types of services do not allow for commercial use without modification. In other words, you need to change the sample and loop before you have a right to use it, and gain royalties from it. Unchained Music cannot approve unmodified samples and loops that come from these types of services.‍

Still have questions? Contact our support.

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