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If a song is free to distribute in any medium under a Creative Commons license, can I use it in a film for film festivals?

Los Angeles, CA |

Can I use it in a film for film festivals since there is no promise for payment by festivals for merely being entered? Do contests fall under commercial use?

I'm specifically asking about portions of songs, but your answer can apply to entire pieces as well.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Under which Creative Commons license? there are six types. All require attribution. Some allow modification, others don't. Some allow commercial use, others don't. See an attorney for further details.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.


  2. http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/does-the-creative-common-license-work-even-if-your-1547492.html

    Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


  3. This depends on the specific terms of the specific creative commons license--there are many of them, all of which have different terms and limitations. If the creative commons restricts commercial use, then a film festival is per se a commercial use. People enter film festivals with the hope that their films will receive awards and then find a wider audience---this is a commercial objective. I am very skeptical of using creative common licenses for purposes of using songs in films---this almost never works.

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