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Where to Learn about Digital Rights Management (as it relates to personal use)

Digital Rights Management

DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney and will give you no thoughts or opinions on this topic; however, I will give you information that I have found so that you can make up your own mind as to whether or not you want to risk using the music that is not public domain or creative commons.

Now, that’s out of the way, so here we go.

Copyright laws cover all creations whether books, videos, music, photos, etc. For the purpose of this post, I will only be talking about music.

I have researched DRM, Copyright Infringement, and Fair Use. So, the best I can do is give you an overview and links for you to review. The risk, of course, is greater when you show your video on YouTube or in another public venue ) or you sell the video. Even if your video is “private” on YouTube, you may be found guilty of copyright infringement. Your risk is decreased if the video has a low distribution and is not shown in a public place or in a way that the music can be copied to bootleg. 

Although you are always advised to give credit, you need to know that you are not protected by that if the owner decides to pursue a copyright infringement claim.

So, the questions you need to answer is this: how broadly will your video be shared and in what venue? How much risk am I wiling to take?

I have used popular music in some videos I have made because I was sure the audience would be extremely limited. I have also used popular music by altering it in way that it could not be counterfeited. by splitting it with different audio or just using a short piece. I know my videos are not being shown on YouTube. If they were, I would use creative commons music with attribution.


Copyright – the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 70 years after his or her death.

The following types of works are protected by copyright:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

Creative Commons – a set of various licenses that allow people to share their copyrighted work to be copied, edited, built upon, etc., while retaining the copyright to the original work (sometimes requiring an attribute).

Digital Rights Management – a set of technologies that enable the control of what the person can do with the intellectual property of others.

Fair Use – reasonable and limited use of copyrighted material so as not to infringe upon copyright(usually related to education or critiques)

Public Domain – the status of a literary work or an invention whose copyright or patent has expired or that never had such protection.

A work is in the public domain if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it does not meet the requirements for copyright protection.

The Public Domain includes:

  • Works published in the U.S. prior to 1923
  • Works whose copyright has expired or was not renewed
  • Works which do not qualify for copyright protection
  • Works created by U.S. Government employees in the scope of their employment. 

Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner. It is highly recommended that you give proper attribution, however.

We, at Make Photo Memories, have access to many Creative Commons pieces of music, as well as approved YouTube music, and will be glad to create a unique soundtrack for your video.  Just know that these music scores will not be “popular music.”  We are providing a service to you and will be glad to abide by your wishes, but if you want to use popular music (copyrighted music), we will ask you to sign a letter of agreement stating that you understand it is your responsibility to research and seek legal advice as needed regarding the use of copyrighted music.