What are SoundCloud's copyright policies?
As a creator-driven platform, ensuring that artists and rightsholders have the tools they need to protect their work is very important to us. This section provides an overview of the various ways we combat copyright infringement on SoundCloud.
Automated content identification system
SoundCloud uses an automated content identification system (or “content ID”) that scans the audio content of all uploaded files. The audio content of your upload is compared with a database of tracks that rightsholders and digital distributors have asked us to block. If the system detects a match, then your upload is blocked in accordance with the digital distributors’ instructions. We also run the content ID system in the background to make sure that, as new tracks are added to our database, we’re picking up infringing content on an ongoing basis. The track will be automatically removed if a match is detected.
Please note that our content identification system does not scan the metadata you have entered when uploading your track (for example, song title, artist name, etc.).
SoundCloud does not issue a strike or other penalty to a user’s account when your content is blocked by our automated content ID system.
What if content that you created is blocked?
Sometimes an artist’s upload will be blocked for matching a track that they have created. This typically happens when an artist is signed to a label and the label is distributed by a digital distributor. If this happens to you, you will need to provide us with confirmation of your digital distribution rights from the distributor before we can reinstate your blocked content. You can always file a dispute to let us know the details of your issue.
Although our system is very sophisticated, it is not perfect. Your upload may be matched with another, unrelated track. In these instances, please file a dispute so that our team can review your case. Be sure to provide us with as much detail as possible to help our team properly process your dispute.
Misidentifications may also happen with public domain works. The works of a composer like Beethoven, for example, are in the public domain. However, a contemporary symphony may record their version of a Beethoven piece and release the recording on a record label. Although Beethoven’s composition is in the public domain, the symphony and their record label have copyright protection in their contemporary sound recording. If you upload public domain content and it gets blocked, it is most likely because there are multiple recordings of a given public domain composition in our content ID system. If this happens, please file a dispute and provide our Copyright Team with the details of your issue.
Manual reports of infringement
We are required by copyright law to take down tracks that are reported to us for infringement. We are also required by copyright law to have a repeat infringement policy.
You will receive a “strike” if content you uploaded is reported as infringing and you are unable to resolve the dispute with the reporting party. We understand that this process can be frustrating for users when their content is reported as infringing. However, copyright law gives SoundCloud very little wiggle room when it comes to reported infringement; the law requires that we quickly remove content that is claimed to be infringing. Unfortunately, that legal requirement can sometimes lead to what feels like rough justice for legitimate rightsholders, but our ability to operate the SoundCloud platform for the benefit of all creators depends on SoundCloud staying within the boundaries of copyright law.
Leaking unreleased content
SoundCloud has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the unauthorized publication of unreleased content. We do not issue strikes when users are reported to have leaked unreleased content; we will immediately suspend or terminate any account reported for sharing unreleased, copyright-protected content. It is also important to keep in mind that “unreleased” does not mean that a track does not have copyright protection.