How do I avoid infringing someone's copyright?

As a reminder, copyright infringement is making a copy of, distributing, publicly performing, publicly displaying, or making a creative derivative of a copyright-protected work without permission from the rightsholder(s).

This means, for example, that uploading a song created by someone else or creating a remix of someone else’s work, even if you’re only using a small part, may be infringing.  In addition to penalties that may be placed on your SoundCloud account, there may be civil or criminal liability.


What is the best way to avoid this?

There are two very easy ways to avoid copyright infringement--create your own original content or get permission from the rightsholders if you are using someone else’s work.

If you created your own original content, did you write and record all of the material used?  Using pieces or samples of an existing track or composition may be infringing even if you only use a small amount of that track or you have modified it in some way.

For example, if you add a freestyle over an existing beat without permission to use that beat, then you may be infringing on the rights of the beat’s owner.  In other words, adding content to someone else’s work does not necessarily allow you to share their work without permission.

Permission to use someone else’s work usually comes in the form of a licensing agreement which outlines how, where, and for how long you may use the content.  If you have properly licensed content that you are uploading to SoundCloud, we recommend keeping the documentation handy in case a problem arises.

Please also bear in mind that crediting the original artist or mentioning that the work has been used for non-commercial purposes is not sufficient.

What if you bought the track or downloaded the work from another source?

Generally, purchasing a track does not give you the right to upload that track to SoundCloud--either in its original form or as part of a remix--without explicit permission.

The same applies to content downloaded from another source, such as a beat.  While the content may be labelled as “copyright-free” or “free to use,” it can be difficult to verify this information or verify that the party has the rights themselves to grant to you.  You should ensure that you have secured explicit permission from the copyright owner before uploading. 

Public tracks vs. private tracks

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. 

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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