Public Domain Music is a release of music unencumbered by copyright or other intellectual property rights so that it can be used by others freely. Typically works in the public domain have intellectual property rights which have expired or have been forfeited by license or permission.
Use of music is often restricted by the owners who have copyrights and require agreements and royalties for its' use. This is their right. Thus the music can not be used without permission and/or payment of a fee. If you want to create a home video of the family and publish it on YouTube, don't even think of putting down a sound track without first obtaining the proper permission and/or paying a royalty. Some music is in the public domain for unrestricted use because all rights have expired, the owner or author has released it to the public domain or is old enough to have never had a copyright.
Recordings of the music must also be released into the public domain or else it too can be copyrighted.
This is a list of sources of public domain and royalty free music. Read all disclaimers and small print. Many sites commingle free and paid music. Another note of caution is that a lot of public domain music has been claimed by companies that have absolutely no copyright claims to the music whatsoever. I used a scratchy recording in a YouTube video of a Southern blues solo artist taped in the 1920's outside of a closed gas station that was released on a free music website as open source and free to use. A year later I get an infraction notice from YouTube because some company claimed it. I also had an artist change his terms from Creative Commons Attribution to a paid license release. YouTube was quick to notify me of my violation of use. The best source of Open Source music is your own (if you play an instrument), your friends (with their permission) or Google's YouTube audio library. It is free and they have never changed their terms. Thank You Google.Music:
- FreeSoundTrackMusic.com - royalty free with attribution to composer and site. Huge selection by music genre
- FreePD.com - MP3s
- OpenMusicArchive.org - old out-of-copyright recordings
- pdmusic.org - midi
- royaltyfreemusic.com - royalty free but not public domain. Read license.
- publicdomain4u.com - lots of old recordings
- AudioSoundClips.com: royalty free
- FunFunFunMedia.com - avoid anything owned by the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA). The IODA website clearly stated "legal, pre-cleared MP3s" until you use them and they hunt you down to stop you from using them (my personal experience) [IODA is now TheOrchard]
(public domain MP3s - Ok for use)
- PDInfo.com: public domain list
- Choral Public Domain Library: CPDL.org - midi and mp3
- Public Domain Choral Music: CIPOO.net - midi
- MusOpen.com - classical music database
- PianoSociety.com - classical piano music
- Wkipedia.org: PD music on their site - mostly classical
- Beethoven - midi
- DanoSongs.com - MP3's by composer Dan-O. Free with credit/attribution. $10.00/track without.
- Incompetech.com - Large selection for all genres. For fee and free are mixed together - be careful.
- UCSB.edu historical archives
- Jamendo.com - Musician share site, Creative Commons-licensed music
- FreeMusic.FreeCulture.org - Musician share site, Music distributed worldwide in One Laptop Per Child project
- FreeMusicArchive.org - All genres
- Opsound.org - Creative Commons artist uploads
- BetterWithMusic.com - Jahzzar (Javier Suarez) Creative Commons attribution only
- FreePlayMusic.com - Free and for fee music. Read the terms closely.
- Google's YouTube audio library - free downloads for use in videos (not for audio redistribution or site duplication)
Sounds and Sound Effects:
- FindSounds.com - search database
- Pacific Digital Video: PacDV.com - sound effects and music
- FreeSound.org - Creative Commons licensed sounds
- CCMixter.org - samples and mixes released under Creative Commons license
- FunkyRemixes.com - free remixes
- CISAC: International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies - France
- SADAIC - Argentina
- GEMA - Germany
- USA performing rights organizations:
- SESAC: Society of European Stage Authors & Composers - USA performing rights organization
- ASCAP: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers - performing rights organization which licenses and collects royalties for performance and service. Advocacy for songwriters, composers and music publishers.
- BMI: Broadcast Music Inc.
- Sound Exchange - The Copyright Royalty Board, which is appointed by The U.S. Library of Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the sole entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties on behalf of featured recording artists, master rights owners (like record labels), and independent artists who record and own their masters.
- BIEM: Bureau International des societies gerant les droits d'Eneregisttrement et de reproduction Mechanique - Mechanical rights societies exist in most countries. They license the reproduction of songs and mechanical aspects of the downloading of music via the Internet
- Harry-Fox - USA agency for collecting and distributing mechanical license fees on behalf of music publishers
Web Based Music Distribution:
- TuneCore.com - publisher which does not demand ownership. Digital distribution worldwide.
- Amazon.com: MP3
- Itunes.com - Apple
The Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More
by Stephen Fishman J.D.
ISBN #1413312055 NOLO; 5 edition (May 4, 2010)