Digital DJ Tips reader Jim Harrington writes with a question that’s been cropping up a lot recently. He says: “I’ve uploaded excerpts from previous DJ sets onto SoundCloud and I’ve been sent this email which has removed one of the tracks. I haven’t made the tracks available for download, they are only available to listen to – I thought it was a good way to get potential clients to hear what I play.”
“So my question is: is it legal to upload a DJ set? I only use legal downloads and these sets were recorded in venues with PRS licenses. What else do I need to do to cover my back or is it an acceptable risk that somebody may not be happy that I’m playing their song? Any help would be greatly appreciated!”
Digital DJ Tips says:
It’s a grey area, that’s for sure, and of course the law is different all over the world. The truth is that we can’t give you a definitive answer to that question. However, we can give you some practical advice.
Firstly, the fact that the set was recorded in a PRS-licensed venue is immaterial. (PRS is the UK licencing system for venues who play copyrighted music, for the majority of our readers who are outside of the UK.) As far as SoundCloud is concerned, it’s clear: “Users must not upload, display, send, transmit or otherwise make available any content which the user does not have the appropriate rights to do so.”
However, we all know in real life it’s not so simple. If nobody complains, stuff stays up there. That’s the philosophy behind practically all the music blogs where you can obtain free tracks, rightly or wrongly. Truth is, many labels love to see their stuff used in this way, and see this as publicity, not piracy. What you’ve done won’t in our experience get you into trouble, it’ll just get your mixes removed, which is what happened (that’s not to say this will always be the case – it’s the risk you take uploading material to services that say you’re not meant to do it).
One solution could be to try a service that makes you submit a track list and doesn’t have the option for downloading, as this implies they’re taking care of all that stuff for you. Mixcloud is like this, and I have not heard of someone having a mix removed from Mixcloud for copyright reasons.
By the way, your problem was with Sony. [Jim attached the letter he received from SoundCloud for us to see.] Sony in all its wisdom, seems to have turned predator, scouring the whole world for any “unauthorised” use of any of its music and insisting on its removal. The same thing is happening on YouTube, for instance. The words “thumb” and “dyke” spring to mind…
Are you an expert in the legalities of DJ mixes? Do you know of services that advertise that they’re “legal” in this respect? Have you had similar experiences to Jim? What are your views on this? We’d love you to let us know in the comments…