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The Legal Implications of Using Music in Facebook Videos

The Legal Implications of Using Music in Facebook Videos

Do you use music in your Facebook videos? You might be in breach of copyright law. Here’s what you need to know before you add that song.

25th March 2020

Facebook allows users to share and post content with other users. This content can take the form of written statuses, pictures and videos. In recent years Facebook and other social media websites have been applying stricter methods of enforcing copyright law, including removing content and suspending or terminating accounts that repeatedly infringe copyright. This presents an issue for a user who wishes to add music to their Facebook videos.

Facebook’s ContentID-based enforcement system of copyright law will form the basis of this article’s examination, as well as the legal implications of Facebook’s exceptions to copyright law infringement.

Copyright Law and the Use of Music

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) governs copyright law in Australia and extends to ‘musical works’ and ‘sound recordings’. Protection under the Copyright Act is free and applies automatically from the time of writing and recording a work. Copyright will last for the entirety of the creator’s lifetime, plus 70 years. For example, if a song was written by an author who died in 1960, copyright would not expire until 2030.

For more information on Australian copyright laws, see our user’s guide to copyright in Australia.

Copyright over a musical work or sound recording entitles the owner to exclusive rights over their content, such as to:

  • Reproduce the work, such as by copying it;
  • Make the work public for the first time; and
  • Communicate the work to the public.

This last right is key, as it means that only the copyright holder may share their work to ‘the public’.

So what does this mean for adding music to your Facebook videos, especially when communicating the work to the public?

Using Copyrighted Music in a Facebook Video

We previously covered copyright materials in YouTube videos, but how do these concerns translate to Facebook?

Similar to YouTube, Facebook uses a ContentID system to remove content that ‘violates someone else’s intellectual property rights’. Therefore, videos containing copyrighted music will be removed. Repeated violations may even result in the suspension or termination of your account.
This applies to any posts on Facebook, regardless of whether you post the video privately or publicly.

The exceptions to this are where you:

  • Have permission, such as by purchasing a licence;1
  • Use music that is in the public domain;
  • Create your own music; or
  • Use Facebook’s music.

The latter two exceptions are covered below.

1As a general rule, seek permission in writing to prevent issues in proving your rights to the copyrighted work.

Creating Your Own Music

You own the rights to any music you create and share to Facebook, however, you need to be aware that in sharing, posting or uploading music in a Facebook video that is ‘covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with [Facebook’s] Products’, you grant Facebook the right to ‘store, copy and share’ your music with others.

That means Facebook can use your music for a multitude of purposes without requiring your permission and, furthermore, Facebook’s licence over your music allows them to transfer or sub-license the music to other companies. This means you relinquish control over the use of your music to Facebook and any companies it sub-licenses or transfers their licence to.

You can end this licence at any time by deleting your content or account.

Be sure to read the terms and conditions of a website before you upload your own content. Consult a copyright lawyer for any questions or assistance.

Using Facebook’s Music

Facebook’s music service allows you to add music to a video by selecting the ‘music sticker’ when posting a video. The service enables you to post a video and add music without having to worry about copyright!

Just be aware that Facebook’s licence over your music extends to other content forms, including video. Therefore, Facebook will gain a licence to your video containing their music until you delete the relevant video or your account.

Additionally, use of any of Facebook’s music, or videos containing their music, must be expressly permitted by their Brand Usage Guidelines or with Facebook’s prior written permission.

Conclusion

As the Copyright Act covers all copyrighted material in Australia, your use of copyrighted music in a Facebook video is subject to action by Facebook in the form or content removal or, in repeated cases, account suspension or termination.

Luckily, there are other solutions to integrating music in your Facebook video, including creating your own music or adding Facebook’s music to your video. However, it is important to understand the rights you grant Facebook over your content if you do.

Keep in mind that any copyright infringements can result in a fine, order of damages and/or account of profits or litigation under the Copyright Act. You can learn more about copyright by speaking to a copyright lawyer.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

Author
Shaheen Hoosen

Shaheen is a Legal Tech Intern at Lawpath as part of the Content Team. He is in his final year of a Bachelor of Laws with the degree of Bachelor of Information Technology (Major in Information Systems and Business Analysis) at Macquarie University. He is interested in IT Law and Access to Justice.