East Dubuque, IL asked in Copyright for Illinois

Q: If I purchased music, can I sell a DVD with that music in the background?

I'm running an online business in personalized video creations (photographs with music in the background). I have an itunes library of all the music I've purchased and I'd like my customers to be able to choose from them, or pick other musical selections that I would then buy from the itunes store and add into the DVD they're ordering. Is this legal? Thank you!

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark A. Baker
Mark A. Baker
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Tallahassee, FL

A: Your use of others' music as you describe would be considered copyright infringement. When you purchase and download a song from iTunes, you only have the right to personal use of the song, and not the right to "copy" of otherwise "distribute" it, which is what you're doing if you're adding music to video. Your intended use requires a master use license (to use the master recording) and a synchronization license (to sync the master recording to video) from the copyright holder, which may be difficult and expensive to acquire.

You might consider locating license-free music to use with your video creations. Of course, it's likely these tunes are not familiar (although songs in the public domain may be familiar, even if old), but there will be no licensing issues.

Best of luck!

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