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Old 03-02-2012, 08:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Is it legal to hum music on Youtube?

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Last edited by democraticcroll; 02-24-2015 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Generally speaking, it would be illegal for you to do that. Of course, it all depends on the songs you want to hum. If the songs are public domain, then it would be perfectly legal for you to hum them. So if you want to hum "Alexander's Ragtime Band" or "Give My Regards To Broadway," feel free to go right ahead. However, if you want to hum "Perfume" by Britney Spears or "Girl Is On Fire" by Alicia Keys, then you would be guilty of copyright infringement (interestingly enough, Alicia Keys was sued for copyright infringement for part of "Girl Is on Fire" that resembled Leon Carr's song "Lonely Boy").

Now, you are probably thinking "Hey, people post covers of themselves singing famous songs all the time." Well, if a person copies the entire song exactly, then they can pay for a compulsory mechanical license. A compulsory mechanical license under Section 115 of the 1976 Copyright Act allows for a person (or musical group) to do a cover (without making substantial changes to the original composition) without first getting the copyright owner's permission to do so. Anyone can pay the compulsory mechanical licensing fee and then distribute their cover of a song, and the copyright owner cannot prevent them from obtaining the license (no matter how terrible the cover is).

Unfortunately, you likely cannot just get a mechanical compulsory license for your humming and be safe. Mechanical compulsory licenses are only available if you do not plan on changing the fundamental character of the work. As any singer or songwriter will tell you, the lyrics are a pretty big part of any song. By removing those lyrics, you probably are changing the fundamental character of the work and are, therefore, ineligible for a mechanical compulsory license. That means, in order to protect yourself legally, you would have to get a license from the copyright holders of every song you want to hum that is currently protected by copyright.

Having a disclaimer such as "for entertainment purposes only" does not work because you are creating a derivative work (basically creating something new using major elements of the copyrighted work by removing the lyrics but keeping the melody), not just replaying your legally-owned copy of a song. Furthermore, fair use only allows you to play your legally-owned copy for close friends and family. By posting anything to Youtube, you are sharing it with more people than just your siblings and your best friends (whether or not your video only gets three hits and they all came from your mom does not matter in the eyes of the law).

So the short answers are no, no, and no...unless you are planning on only humming songs that are already in the public domain.
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Old 05-19-2014, 11:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Actually, if you want to risk it, you have a very strong case for fair use. Fair use is an affirmative defense to copyright infringement. If anyone ever decided to sue you, you could try defending yourself with fair use. As long you don't make any money of your YouTube channel and are just doing it for fun, the judge will be more inclined to rule in your favor.
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Old 11-13-2014, 05:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Before you copy anything protected by the copyright law, understand first the dos and don'ts to avoid legal dispute. Understand how can your use "fair use" and what are the things to avoid in order not to be accused of copyright infringement.
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Parole Packet Services

No amount of lawsuits or legal threats will change the fact that this behavior is considered. This app can identify a song for you just by humming the melody or singing. SoundHound is a music search and discovery experience that identifies what is being played around you. the world that can give you song and lyrics results through unique sing and hum search technology.


.................
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