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Copyrighted music in non-commercial games

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What are the possible consequences for using copyrighted music in non-commercial (free and no ads) games? Does giving credit to the musician in the credits actually lessen or remove any of these consequences? The most experience I've had with copyrighted music is with YouTube videos and those consequences vary a lot (your video can get monetized, muted, or removed depending on the music publisher).

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Disclaimer: IANAL!


"Does giving credit to the musician in the credits actually lessen or remove any of these consequences?"

No. You need permission from the copyright holders of the composition and the recording itself. Crediting the musician isn't enough and even if the musician gave permission, that's no guarantee that other parties do not hold copyright on, say, the recording.

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What are the possible consequences for using copyrighted music in non-commercial (free and no ads) games?

 

You can get a threatening letter demanding that you take the game offline and make it unavailable, destroy all copies, track down all downloaders/users of the game and ask them to destroy it -- or you can be sued.  Same as if it was a for-profit game.

Edited by Tom Sloper

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The possible consequences include, but are not limited to, getting takedown notices, Cease and Desist orders, getting sued, and potentially face multi-million dollar fines and jail time.

 

 

Just because you don't charge for your app and do not have ads does not mean your game is non-commercial.

 

US Copyright law lists those non-commercial uses as "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research".  Just because it is free and non-advertising does not mean it qualifies as a fair use.

 

You absolutely need permission for everything you use.

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