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Public domain music is music which has no copyright on it. Usually, this is either because the copyright on the music has expired, because the creator has given up the copyright on their own work and put it in the public domain themselves, or in some cases, because copyright never applied to it in the first place.
If a sound recording has passed into the public domain then you can sample it in your release, but being certain about the copyright status of the recording you want to sample can be difficult.
Make sure you do your research so that you’re 100% confident in the copyright status of the recording you want to sample before you use it.
Creative commons licences are a very popular way for creators to put content in the public domain. In some cases, a creative commons licence on a sound recording will let you sample it for a commercial release, but this isn’t always the case.
There’s lots of different creative commons licences, and what you can do with content depends which one of those licences the creator picked. Some licences say that the content can’t be used commercially, can only be used if the content isn’t changed in any way, or can only be used is the original creator is credited appropriately. Read the conditions the creator has released their content under, and make sure you’re allowed to use it for a commercial release before you start work on your track.
If you’ve used work that’s been placed in the public domain by its creator and we have to ask about it, please send through:
- a link to where you downloaded it
- your username
- the UPC of the release
- a link to wherever the creator has said that it’s public domain content