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Public Domain Music

Sources of free public domain, royalty free music.

Definition and Description:

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.

List of sources of Public Domain Music/Royalty Free Music:

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: Linux Tux at the piano 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]

Sounds and Sound Effects:

Wikipedia Lists:

Google Search:







Web Based Music Distribution:


Book imageBooks:

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)