Every day clients and radio stations battle with the question… Can I use copyrighted music in my advertising? Now I’ll try and keep this short and to the point because the law is the law! The type of music we are referencing is commercially marketed music. Here we go…
When it comes to using a copyrighted song for your business commercial, you can’t unless you have obtained a license to do so. Even though your local radio station pays BMI and ASCAP fees, that does not give them the right to use the music in your commercial.
Some clients have asked if it’s okay to have a local band re-record the song so that it’s technically a different version for their radio commercial. Once again the answer is nope. Even if you change the lyrics, the answer is still nope. What about just an instrumental version of the song? The answer will still be no.
These same rules apply to non-profit organizations as well. The copyright laws adhere to what is known as “strict liability”. Meaning, “I didn’t know” doesn’t protect you in a court of law. Long story short, if you wish to utilize an artist’s music for your commercials… you will need a license.