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Attorney Wayne
Attorney Wayne, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  Practicing Law Since 2000
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Hello. Please help me! I created a Youtube video using segments

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Hello. Please help me! I created a Youtube video using segments of Madonna music. One of the songs "Masterpiece" is causing an issue with "Copyright Infringement Claim" against me. I am using only 54 seconds of the music sound. No issues with the other 30 songs I am using, but only his particular one. I BOUGHT ALL HER MUSIC from itunes dating back to the 1980's. I've actually invested $1,000.00 in all things relating to Madonna for over 30 years! UMG: "Universal Music Group" has shut down my 16 minute video. I have submitted a retraction claim against them twice via Youtube submission protocal... asking them on what grounds are they claiming coping. They will not tell me or explain. Meanwhile, my reputation is at risk. I have 5 other video's showcasing my brand and ideas as; 1wilabe. I am worried that others/clients and the general public are going to think I am a criminal-steeling other peoples work. This is not the case in any form or manner/matter. I wish I could show somebody. Can you provide some guidance as to what I can legally do. It's been over a month, and I am still waiting for closure, reason, and answers. I am so confused and overwhelmed with grief. Sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX [email protected]

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Hello. Thanks for contacting us.

I am so sorry to hear of this predicament. One would expect that buying music downloads would allow use in any way the buyer wishes.

But, since I suspect you want the unvarnished legal facts: copyright law makes purchase of a copy of something like a song not the same as buying a physical object -- which, once purchased, is yours to use as you want.

Copyright actually sets up categories of rights and each right is then sold separately.

So while someone pays to download a song on Itunes or Rhapsody (or whatever services), they are only buying the right to have a copy of the song for personal listening.

When making a video, it is necessary to buy a different authorization -- usually what is called a "sync right." Thus, the use in a video infringes the copyright even if the person has purchased a personal listening right at Itunes (or whatever).

As only a bit of the song is used, there may be defenses to the infringement (legal excuses). Chief among these is "fair use" -- which could occur if the clips were part of a review, commentary, historic piece or something of that sort. But if the music is simply used as a soundtrack, then there would be no presumable defense or excuse.

In any event, an outfit like YouTube has cut deals with music publishers, record companies, etc to remove certain types of material. So while one can contest the takedown request from a music publisher or a record company, those kind of deals made directly between a service like YouTube and copyright interests, will likely result in a takedown even if there was a "fair use" defense possible to copyright infringement.

To help prevent misunderstandings in the future, it might be useful to better understand the copyright infringement process. Here are a couple of links to help get up to speed on these issues:

There's also a great book to keep handy if making videos is a regular part of business activity:

While I know you probably hoped for an answer that would allow use of the music in the video without additional rights clearance from the copyright holder, I also hope you'll appreciate the unvarnished truth presented and the possibilities for copyright law compliance that can be worked out to make things work better going forward.

I wish you every success in your business!
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