The 30-Second Rule For Using Music In Your Videos is a Myth

This is an annual topic of discussion in everything from listservs and message boards to conventions and summer workshops. Many people think that they are able to use any music they want in their video or multimedia packages as long as it’s less than 30 seconds long.

That’s simply not the case.

In a recent online discussion, Candace Bowen shared this post from the Student Press Law Center that gives a lot of great information on using music. It’s titled: Guide to Music Licensing for Broadcasting and Webcasting. While the entire post gives a lot of good information, many people will find the FAQ about licensing and fair use near the bottom most useful and relevant.

If students want to use music in their videos or multimedia pieces, their best bets are to create music of the own with something like Garageband for Mac or LMMS for PC.  They can also find copyright free music. We have a nice list of places you can look for music in our post titled: Royalty Free Music for Audio and Video Production. As with everything, make sure to read the Terms of Service for using music from those sites. Some don’t require any attribution, others ask for specific things to be included in the video description or titles.

Have any other specific questions? Feel free to put them in the comments below and we’ll work to get them answers. Also, if you have any great places you use for copyright free music, feel free to link them below.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 20th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He created The Next 26 and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on Twitter and Instragram @manfull and on Snapchat as aaronmanfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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