Dos and Don’ts of Instagram Copyright: Music Edition

Instagram copyright and music 🎵 issues can be a pain for both original artists and copyright violators. In fact, most problems stem from a lack of or miseducation on copyright law and the doctrine of fair use.

On the other hand, many content creators’ problems result from a misunderstanding of when and how to file copyright takedown notices. 

Therefore, in order to help educate my clients on Instagram, copyright, music, and social media law, I like to provide them with some general dos and don’ts:

DO 👍: Ask users to remove your music BEFORE submitting a complaint

While Instagram’s algorithm will sometimes flag copyright infringement on its own, most of the platform’s copyright strikes result from user reports. 

Therefore, if you find your music on the platform without your permission, you will have to flag 🚩 the issue yourself.

That being said, I almost always advise my clients to avoid confrontation and any sort of legal action at first. Unfortunately, whenever you report copyright infringement on Instagram, your personal information including your name and email and/or physical address is sent to the infringer.

Therefore, in order to avoid sharing this data, you should try to reclaim your property by DMing 💬 the copyright violator and requesting they remove their post. 

While not the most reliable strategy, simply asking 🙏 the user to remove your music from their post is usually the easiest way to reclaim your content. Plus, you never know – they may surprise you!

Of course, if the infringer does not heed your request, it’s completely within your right to file a complaint against them. However, at least you know you tried to go about it without conflict.

DON’T 👎: File a DMCA counter notification if you DID use the content illegally

If one of your posts is flagged for copyright infringement, you’re usually better off keeping the content off the site and moving on. At least now you’re equipped with new knowledge of Instagram copyright and music guidelines 🤷.

That being said, Instagram does provide users with an appeals process for fighting back against copyright strikes. Depending on how the reporter flagged your post, you may either appeal with Instagram’s appeals form or a DMCA counter notice. 

However, it is extremely important to note that you should NOT file an appeal unless you have not violated Instagram music copyright guidelines. If you are unsure about your infringement but still want to appeal, you should consult a social media attorney 💼.

Why? 🤔

If your counter notification is not accepted by the reporter, you will have to testify under penalty of perjury… and that’s pretty serious stuff.

DO 👍: Get permission to use music in your posts

There are two ✌️ ways to obtain permission to use music on Instagram: by asking the artist directly or by purchasing a license to the content.

Of course, you probably aren’t going to get in direct contact with Harry Styles and ask to use “Watermelon Sugar” in your next Insta post. 

Instead, think of smaller, local bands and artists that would be happy to have free exposure to your thousands of followers. Chances are, they’d grant you permission in a heartbeat 💓.

That being said, if you’re interested in music more of your followers will recognize (like “Watermelon Sugar”), there are websites that provide licenses to these popular songs. However, these options are not quite as budget-friendly as requesting rights for free.

For example, FyrFly is a popular website that offers a large selection of music for a monthly fee. Unfortunately, premium songs (again, like “Watermelon Sugar”) will cost you an additional fee 💰 per download.

Since Instagram posts are pretty short compared to, say, YouTube videos, this subscription may not be worth the price. However, if using hit songs in your videos is an important part of your social strategy, be sure to use a site like FyrFly to stay out of Instagram copyright music trouble.

DON’T 👎: Acquire multiple copyright flags

Everyone makes mistakes, and one copyright flag isn’t 🙅‍♂️ going to cost you your account. However, if these strikes become a common problem, you will unfortunately face more extensive penalties than a simple video takedown.

More specifically, repeat offenders of copyright infringement on Instagram will face either a disabled account or loss of access to important features or functionalities. 

Not to mention, the penalties for copyright infringement don’t stop on the app 📱.

Any copyright holder who finds their music on your Instagram page and believes it has provided a source of income for your brand – or cost them revenue – can sue for actual and statutory damages. Ultimately, you could end up in court 🏛️ for copyright infringement.

Therefore, while we all slip up once in a while, if you receive more than one copyright strike on your Instagram account, it’s important to reconsider your strategy. Perhaps you could benefit from education on the doctrine of fair use and Instagram’s music guidelines.

Feel free to reach out to a social media attorney for a one-on-one consultation 🤝 if you feel you need help avoiding copyright strikes on Instagram. We can help you learn how to legally use copyrighted music or any other content in your posts.