Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Music Law Tips: by Dark Beauty's Attorney: Bryan Zeigler

Bryan Zeigler getting sworn in

Often on YouTube or Facebook, I'll see professionally produced material, like clips from recent movies or a current popular song set to someone's personal photos, along with a note saying "no copyright infringement intended." Ah, if only it were so easy. I doubt many people would expect to avoid a ticket for driving 65 in a school zone, by telling the police officer there was "no violation of the speed limit intended." Either content that you post is legal or it isn't. Any note you post along with it with have no effect at all on the legality of the material. Here's a simple test: If you didn't create it, all of it, you can't use it without permission.

Now there are ways to get permission quickly and inexpensively, and sometimes you can use small portions of an existing work under what is known as the "Fair Use" provision, but posting an entire episode of a tv show, or downloading an entire movie or album without payment from a torrent site is illegal. It's not a grey area, it's illegal. The only question is whether you'll be caught.

As an artist though, copyright law protects you by giving you many rights over what you create. As a musician for example, the moment you create a song, you get the right to record it, distribute that recording, and get paid for its sale and play on the radio. Yes, you get those rights the moment you create a song. So why register it with the Copyright office at all? And why not just mail a copy to yourself? Answers to these questions next time.

Trust me, I'm a lawyer.


  1. I would never do this, and I don't know how!! I just share posts to give more exposure.

  2. We know you wouldn't and thank you for sharing our music and our posts...this is great info for many artists ;-) Thanks for reading it and sharing it! Hugs Liz ;-)

  3. I remember reading some of the copyright law a while back, it has all sorts of twists and turns and other clauses.

  4. Great Advice! I see the disclaimer "no copyright infringement intended" and I wonder what the person was thinking. Thanks, Brian, for clarifying.