Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

YouTube question

When you post your music on YouTube, how do you handle the rights to anything that is not  your own music when posting?  Someone asked me this, and I do not know the answer to it.  In other words-if you want to make and sell a CD by recording yourself singing other people's music-then put it on YouTube, is it legal to do that, or do you need special permission to post?  Mechanical licensing has been obtained for all selections for the CD recording itself, but is it now legal to post on YouTube without any further permissions?  Does the person need a synch or master license in addition, or does the mechanical license also include permission to post on YouTube?   
Replies (6): Threaded | Chronological
on January 13, 2011 2:33pm
No, the mechanical license doesn't cover this. You must get a separate synchronization license. Unfortunately, Harry Fox doesn't handle these anymore. You'll have to contact the publisher directly. 
I think it's safe to say that 99% of the videos of choral music on YouTube haven't gone through this step, however.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on January 13, 2011 3:42pm
Susan:  I believe that Allen is correct, but you should know that this question has come up previously in the past few months, and that there are those who have different opinions.  (Note:  I say "opinions" because we still haven't had a definitive statement, and people will always engage in wishful thinking that allows them to do what they wanted to do in the first place!)  One of the claims boils down to "well, YouTube is taking care of the licensing requirements, since if they didn't they would be illegal," but no one seems to take that kind of argument very seriously.
The mechanical license entitles you to make your recording, and to distribute the number of copies for which you have paid the licensing royalty.  The legal question (at least ONE of them!) seems to be whether posting on line constitutes a single distribution or whether each viewing consitutes a separate distribution, in which case you have violated your license.
Synchronization, if I understand it (and I might not), refers to synchronizing an audio track with video or film, so if you are JUST posting an audio recording that might be very different from posting the kind of video that consitutes most of the YouTube fare.  I just don't know. 
All the best,
on January 14, 2011 1:24pm
From the YouTube Terms of Service (
"You shall be solely responsible for your own Content and the consequences of submitting and publishing your Content on the Service. You affirm, represent, and warrant that you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to publish Content you submit."  and
"You further agree that Content you submit to the Service will not contain third party copyrighted material, or material that is subject to other third party proprietary rights, unless you have permission from the rightful owner of the material or you are otherwise legally entitled to post the material and to grant YouTube all of the license rights granted herein."
I have recently communicated with a woman from South America who has uploaded a number of videos of 20th and 21st-century choral music to YouTube, and she confirmed that YouTube deleted her original channel due to copyright violations. Her "videos" have commercially-released recordings of choral works as the sound track and scrolling choral scores as the visual content. While her content and actions are different than what you propose, it speaks against the "YouTube takes care of licensing" claims have been previously made here, and also against the idea that it's OK to post choral music performances on YouTube because others have gotten away with it.
And before someone brings up the DMCA-related "takedown" remedies or advertising links that YouTube offers content owners, those are only remedies offered to deal with illegally-posted content after the fact, and don't necessarily make it OK for someone to post the content in the first place. While it's nice to have the content freely available to watch online, there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of offering performers/conductors/etc. methods of sharing such content legally. (Disclaimer: IANAL)
on May 12, 2014 6:34pm
Well, here we are a few years later. Is there a good place to check out how to handle, legally, uploading clips of choir performances to YouTube? I'm a community choir director and so don't have a formal educator hat. Are you folks requesting permission from the publishers? Where should I go to get myself educated? YouTube's information isn't much help.
Many thanks,
Cynthia Frank
Mendocino Women's Choir
on May 13, 2014 6:45am
A synch license is required..... 
As stated above, much of the content on YouTube is up without a license and in violation of copyright, and is subject to being taken down at some point.
From ASCAP:   "A synchronization or "synch" right involves the use of a recording of musical work in audio-visual form: for example as part of a motion picture, television program, commercial announcement, music video or other videotape. Often, the music is "synchronized" or recorded in timed relation with the visual images. Synchronization rights are licensed by the music publisher to the producer of the movie or program."
on May 13, 2014 8:11am
A great resource for publishing and posting your choir's performances would be Tresona Multimedia.  You send them the tracks, they handle the licensing, and post it in a 'store' where your fans can download it for a small fee - say, $1 per track - and your organization makes a profit.  You can also give 'gift cards' (codes) where you would pay only for the licensing.  It's a great concept.
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.