Using music in your projects is sometimes a difficult task - at least if you plan on using someone else's music. As already outlined in the article YouTube and Google Video collide with RIAA the big players have the same problems sometimes. But if you are an independent filmmaker or a starving multimedia artist options aren't as diverse as for a global-player like Google. So, which sources do we have to get some quality free music totally legal and cleared for our project?
Royalty-Free Music As outlined in the wikipedia article about the topic royalty free music is "music that can be purchased for (in most cases) a one-time fee and then be used by the purchaser as many times as needed". Royalty-free is often synonymous with cheap, so don't expect any masterpieces here. But if you look for that track you heared this morning in the elevator, then it is surely from a royalty-free CD. A search on Google will help to find you some sources for such music, good site are also: www.stockmusic.net and www.royaltyfreemusic.com.
Public Domain When using royalty-free music you still pay a charge, most of the time for the purchase of the CD or the online access to the archive to download. But when you are on a really tight budget or just whant to quickly put in some music on your project without going and buying a royalty-free source then public domain is for you as it is truly free. Public Domain means noone is claiming copyright for the specific work (or the period a work can be covered by copyright has expired, which is the case in most public domain works). So you are free to use it to your heart's content. One public domain source for music is www.publicdomain4u.com. Google for more.
Creative Commons On Creative Commons a lot of music can be downloaded issued under a CC license. As the website explains: Creative Commons uses "private rights to create public goods: creative works set free for certain uses. Like the free software and open-source movements, our ends are cooperative and community-minded, but our means are voluntary and libertarian. We work to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them â to declare "some rights reserved". The idea is that artists publish their works under a license they select and you are free to use the work as long as you obey to the terms described in the license. If you like you can donate for using the work. For CC music go to these sites: www.opsound.org www.ccmixter.org www.incompetence.com
Further reading: -An Introduction to Copyright Laws for the United States -Free Your Music