How to avoid copyright infringement

Because the rights afforded by copyright law are exclusive to the copyright owner(s), you will infringe copyright if you make use of the copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner(s) - for example, if you copy or adapt a copyright work, or make it available on the internet.

The best way to avoid copyright infringement is to ensure that you don’t use anything created by someone else. Simple as that.

If you do use someone else's work, make sure you have the necessary permissions – this will usually take the form of a license from the copyright owner(s), which you may have to pay for. There are certain instances where you may be able to use excerpts of copyrighted material without a license – for example, if you use a small part of someone else's work for the purposes of criticism or review, or if your use constitutes "fair use" under applicable law (particularly U.S. law) – however, discussion of these exceptions is beyond the scope of this guidance. If you intend to use any part of a copyright work in reliance on any of the statutory exceptions, you should seek legal advice first.

If you have any doubt regarding the extent of your rights in any tracks, you should consult with a suitably qualified lawyer before uploading anything to SoundCloud or making any claims or counter-claims regarding your rights. However, as a general guide, here are some of the issues you might want to consider before uploading something to SoundCloud:


For uploads containing musical works:

Can you answer “yes” to all of the following questions?

  • Did you compose the music yourself?
  • Did you write the lyrics yourself?
  • Did you record and produce the track yourself or do you have permission from the producer or record label that made the sound recording?
  • Do you have written permission from all copyright owners to use any samples contained in the track? 

Can you answer “no” to all of the following questions?

  • Were you signed to a record label when you recorded the track?
  • Do you have a publishing deal?
  • Are you a member of a performing rights organization or collecting society?
  • Have you licensed your track to anyone else?
  • Does the track contain the entirety or any part of someone else's song(s) Is it based on someone else’s song(s)?

For other tracks, including field recordings, podcasts, audiobooks or voice messages:

Can you answer “yes” to all of the following questions?

  • Is the recording spontaneous, as opposed to being recited from a script, play or book (other than one written by you)?
  • Is it a recording of your performance?
  • Did you make the recording yourself?
  • Do you have the permission of anyone else appearing in the recording to upload and share the recording on SoundCloud?

Can you answer “no” to all of the following questions?

  • Is the recording rehearsed or recited from a script, play or book (other than one written by you)?
  • Does the recording contain any music or excerpts from other copyright works (e.g. movie dialogue)?


What if I uploaded the track as private, isn't that okay? 

Even if it is for your own personal use, you won’t be allowed to upload a copyrighted track to your SoundCloud profile as a private track, as it is still possible to share private tracks to other listeners. 

Was this article helpful?
1007 out of 1734 found this helpful