How do I upload content that contains work created by someone else?

You almost always need permission to share content that has been created by someone else.  This is true for any content created by someone else, including DJ sets, remixes, and mashups. 

Please bear in mind that purchasing a track or downloading it from another source does not grant the rights to publish the track, either in an original or edited way, without explicit permission.

Additionally, an unreleased track is not free to use.  It is the creation of a piece of music--not its release--that creates copyright protection.  Unreleased music is still protected by copyright.  We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the unauthorized publications of unreleased music on SoundCloud and your account will be permanently terminated if reported for a leak.

We will be required to take down the content if it is reported to us for infringement in order to be in compliance with copyright law.

If you have obtained the proper permission from the rightsholder to use the content, please be sure to have this permission documented and available in case an issue occurs.  If the content you are using was released on a label, then this permission usually must come from the label who is typically the rightsholder for the master recording.  Permission from the artist themselves will usually be insufficient.

If your properly licensed content is blocked when uploading, or you believe your use falls under fair use or a copyright exception, we encourage you to file a dispute to let us know the details of your situation.


Is this also true for covers and remade beats?

Yes, you must obtain permission from the original creators if you would like to use their composition.  While you may be performing all elements of the track or using a remade beat, the songwriter(s) still have copyright protection over the composition and therefore the composition must be properly licensed.


Can I use a “free” or “non-profit” beat that I found somewhere?

There are “free,” “non-profit,” and “free for profit” beats that can be found in various places online.  This type of content is difficult for use on SoundCloud for a variety of reasons.  

First, the source of the beat may not be the rightsholder. For example, the track may be an instrumental from a popular track with the vocals removed and put online as a “free” beat. 

We have no way to confirm if the uploader has permission from the original creator to use the instrumental themselves or the ability to grant permissions to other creators for use of the beat. 

The “free” instrumental might also be a remade instrumental, but we cannot confirm if they have properly licensed the composition, as needed when performing a cover, and secured the rights to grant such permission to others.

Second, the beat may be mislabeled. The creator may have labeled the instrumental as “free” or “non-profit” but expects that the work would be leased/licensed. 

Given the difficulty of confirming ownership for an instrumental found somewhere online without documentation from the rightsholder, we cannot accept as a defense to your blocked content that the work used was “free” or “non-profit.” 

If you would like to use one of these types of works, we recommend getting in touch with the original creator to request permission and obtaining documentation of this permission.


What about works in the public domain?

The term “public domain” refers to creative works that are no longer subject to copyright protection. Most often, works enter the public domain because their copyright term has expired.  A work in the public domain can be used by anyone without obtaining further permission.  A work is not public domain simply because it has been released publicly.  

Copyright protection typically expires 70 years after the author’s death, so works must be quite old before they enter the public domain. 

The most common example of a public domain work is a piece of classical music.  Keep in mind, though, that while the compositions in those cases may have passed into the public domain and can be recorded or performed publicly without a license, there may still be copyright protection on contemporary recordings of the work.  For example, Für Elise by Beethoven is no longer subject to copyright, but the recording of a modern symphony’s performance of Für Elise likely is subject to copyright. As a result, your upload may be blocked for being similar to the copyright-protected recording.  When uploading your personal recordings of works in the public domain, please file a dispute if the content is blocked to let us know the details of your issue.

Disclaimer: We do not give legal advice. The above information is provided for informational purposes only.  Consult a qualified attorney in your area for more information about copyright and your work.

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