no-copyright music and youtube

Can I Upload No-Copyright Music on YouTube?

“No-copyright music” is like a unicorn. It is nearly impossible to find unless you trawl the public domain music archives.

Yet, there are many music channels and music suppliers who list their music as “copyright free” or “no-copyright music” or “non-copyright music”, but the truth is, most of this music is not copyright free at all.

When you compose a piece of music, copyright is automatically applied. 

So here in the UK, if I take out my guitar and write a song right now, in 3 minutes I will have a new original song and automatically I own the copyright. This is detailed in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Therefore, these “non-copyright music” descriptions are very misleading as finding music without any copyright implications is nearly impossible to find outside of public domain archives.

So if you are a YouTuber and find music described with any of these “no-copyright” music terms, be cautious. Carefully read the terms and conditions of your music use and don’t assume that  music described as copyright free, is carefree. This just isn’t so.

Why is “no-copyright music” like a unicorn?

“No-copyright music” is like a unicorn as it is highly desirable but is very difficult to find. 

From my personal experience, outside of public domain music it is virtually non-existent.

Copyright in music composition is automatically applied the second a new work is created and documented i.e. written down or recorded.

Like I mentioned previously, if I take out my guitar and phone right now, in three minutes I could have written and documented a new song which I own the copyright to. 

In addition, there are also two types of copyright within music:

1 – The Composition Copyright – i.e. whoever wrote the music.

2 – The Sound Recording Copyright – i.e. the particular recorded version.

So already, we have two types of copyright to deal with. So to use a piece of music in your YouTube video you need permission for both.

With most music libraries, this is implied. For example, in my own royalty free music library, there is a composition copyright and a recording copyright attached to every song.  

I own both so when I give you permission to use my music for free in your YouTube videos, you are 100% covered. 

With these two levels of copyright, you can see why the notion of “non-copyright music” is like a unicorn. It is nearly impossible to find. Even if you find a composer who renounces their copyright claim completely,  you will then need to clear the copyright with the owner of the recording, who might be a different person.

Why is music listed as copyright free or no-copyright music when it isn’t?

So you are probably wondering, why is music listed as “no-copyright music” when it clearly isn’t? 

You have probably come across the term “no-copyright music” as you have been googling:

  • “How to find copyright free music” or
  • “Can I use copyright music” or
  • “Is this music copyright safe to use in my videos” etc…..

Because of this, the term “no-copyright music” has floated to the top of the google keyword search engine. 

As a result, music suppliers have seen this and have started calling their music “copyright free music” or “non-copyright free music” in order to get their music seen by millions of YouTubers looking for music.

This is why music is listed as “non-copyright” when it truly isn’t. It is a high ranking keyword on google and if you have your music ranked as “non-copyright” it is going to get millions of hits which equals millions of sales. 

How about public domain music?

There is a type of music that is truly “copyright free” and this is public domain music.

A musical work will enter the public domain when no one owns a copyright to it.

You do not need copyright permission to use officially declared public domain work. 

Typically, you will find three types of musical works in the public domain:

1 – Really old songs as they were created before our modern copyright laws. 

2 – Musical works whose copyright has expired (typically 70 years after the death of the composer, but it does vary internationally) and the composer has not renewed the copyright or assigned it to another party. 

3 – The composer dedicates their work to the public domain

It is important to note that again, there are two types of copyright to a musical work.

1 – The Composer Copyright

2 – The Sound Recording Copyright

Therefore, Beethoven’s and Mozart’s music is in the public domain, but the recordings of these classical works by famous orchestras are not.

In theory, public domain music sounds like a good solution to avoiding copyright infringement laws but you are typically limited to older music and will not find modern music easily.

So what music can I use safely and confidently in my YouTube videos?

If you are a YouTuber or creator and have been googling “non-copyright music” I can assume that you are simply looking for high quality music that you can use in your YouTube videos and content, that is 

  • Safe to use
  • All legal
  • Won’t get your channel shut down
  • Allows you to be confident that you are on the right side of the music law

It can be very stressful to get a copyright strike on your YouTube content and these content copyright strikes mostly come about because of music. 

Therefore, it is natural to be anxious and concerned as you have probably put hours into your YouTube content or film and the thought of a third party getting that shutdown due to no fault of your own is both terrifying and frustrating. 

In a nutshell, stick to royalty free music libraries that clearly state you can use the music. These are the simplest and safest options.

In addition there are lots of high quality free to use royalty free music libraries out there so there is no need to go looking into the dark corners of the internet for questionable free music. 

Obviously, I am going to recommend my own royalty free music! If you are reading this blog you have already found my music so head over to my music library where you can find music that is:

  • Safe to use on YouTube
  • High quality MP3 & .WAV format
  • Free to use
  • Comes with a full PDF licence so you know you are covered.

In return all I ask is that you credit the music to me, for example

Music by:

You can read the license page <here> to ensure that the music is right for your application.

Of course, if you have any questions, I am a real person and always happy to help out. Just drop me a message |

Alternative sources of Royalty Free Music for You Tube

If you want some more variety and alternative options, check out my article <here> on the best places to find free music for Youtube for some alternative music suppliers.

music for videos on YouTube

Here are some good references if you want to learn more about copyright in the music industry:

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as a guide only for educational and informational purposes. It is not legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters.