How To Legally Use Copyright Music In YouTube Videos

Back when I was in college, the guys and me had a great Wham! Cover band called Blam!. Unfortunately, we had to put our “Faith” in getting locals bars and pubs to give us gigs and we’d often play in the quad with our hats held out, only making about 35 cents for a whole day of jamming. Luckily for upcoming bands in this day and age, they can use the magic of YouTube to get their message out to the masses. It’s not all about recording a song in your garage and waking up the next day to an invite from American Bandstand though as bands have to respect the copyright and intellectual property of original bands on YouTube.


Whether your band is playing music owned by another artist or you simply put “Red Red Wine” in the background of a YouTube video of your mother passed out, you must respect copyright rules. YouTube uses an algorithm that determines if a song is being used illegally and reports from users also contribute to YouTube penalties. Luckily, you’ll probably never be monetarily fined for using a song illegally but you could have your YouTube account blocked for repeated offenses. Most likely, YouTube will simply remove the song from the background of your video and depending on the use, the video might not make sense and will get negative comments.

To legally use copyrighted songs on YouTube, you can take advantage of a YouTube sponsored program called AudioSwap, which is a library of popular songs that are available for free usage on your YouTube videos. To use AudioSwap, first log into your YouTube account and click on your profile. Go to “My Videos” then “Replace Audio” and then select a song from the AudioSwap public library. You’ll need to make sure the timing of both videos sync up and remember that your existing background sounds will be eliminated completely.

Some people might not like the songs available in the AudioSwap public library and for them there are a few alternate routes to legally use copyrighted songs on YouTube. The first thing you can try is file a dispute to YouTube that you’re in fact using the song within your rights. If you’re using the song for educational purposes and not in marketing then you might have a chance to win the dispute.

Another option is to change the music just enough to express a personal representation of the song. You might have seen songs sped up like a chipmunk or slowed down like Will Ferrell after getting shot with a tranquilizer gun and this is people using copyrighted songs legally.

As long as you use the copyrighted song in a positive light and don’t intend to make money or fame off the video, you shouldn’t have a problem using any particular music. The last step you can take is to attempt to get use approved by the original artist and you can do this through a lawyer or by emailing Good Luck!


  1. says

    Great information! There are many individuals who like to download videos from YouTube, so being aware of this copyright is a safe action.

  2. Madeleine Sweeney says

    Well said! Copyright is normally a misinterpreted place of the law and that Youtube had paid for this. Regardless, the argument between Worldwide and YouTube or Google seems to be important in the expansion of copyright law on the internet. This is something very interesting to hear about.

  3. says

    I like AudioSwap. It’s not mainstream music, but it does offer a pretty good selection of music to add to YouTube videos. I wish more folks knew about the program, rather than pirating songs. Great job helping raise awareness about the program!


  4. says

    I think that simply using copyrighted songs is the best option so long as we deny the copyright infringement and explain that the purpose of the video is not for marketing but rather for pleasure

  5. says

    Personally I find the entire copyright thing a bit nonsensical but the free songs are generally quite bad so finding a way to circumvent the copyright is always good

  6. Natalia West says

    While not really made by mainstream artists the songs available on audioswap are still pretty decent and I find them quite useful for some of my videos

  7. says

    I must agree. Well copyright became an issue for how many months in USA Maybe we should also respect the publisher of the musics we are downloading in YouTube.