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Copyright and Dance: Music

copyright resources specific to dance students and faculty
Last Updated: May 9, 2022 10:00 AM

Using music in your dance videos

The music you select as background to your practical or dance reel video is also protected by copyright, and it has multiple layers of protection. The musical works—songs and compositions—are protected by copyright, but the actual sound recordings of those songs and compositions have a separate copyright. What makes this more complex, is that the rights owners for the song and the sound recording of that song are often not the same parties.

YouTube information for music in your videos


Fair use and music in your videos

Similar to evaluating your intended use of copyright-protected choreographies in your video, you can also evaluate your intended use of music to see if it's fair.

  • Including any phrase, such as, “Used under fair use” OR “Copyright infringement not intended” does absolutely nothing to protect you from copyright infringement claims. This is a myth.
  • Even if you evaluate your use of the copyrighted works—the choreographies, the song—and think your use is fair, that does not prevent any copyright owner from accusing you of infringement.
  • Creating a dance reel video for self-promotion is not an educational use.
  • Not all educational uses are fair.
  • Not all commercial uses are infringements.

Fair use is based on four different factors. Learn more about fair use on the main copyright research guide.

It took this mom from Pennsylvania eight years in court to get a huge win for fair use when her 29-second use of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" in a YouTube video of her toddler dancing got flagged by an employee at Universal Music Group, who then submitted a takedown notice to YouTube.