I am starting to develop an advent calendar ready for December. For this app, I want to have Christmas music.

In order to make sure that I don't run into any copyright issues, I am using Creative Commons. Doing a search on there led me to this site. The main songs that I am a, interested in so far are We wish you a merry Xmas and Jingle Bells Bluegrass by Akashic Records. There may also be others I want later on.

Now, the question is, as these are remixes of original songs that are copyrighted, do I still have permissions to put the tracks in my app or would I still have to contact the original artist of the song first? If it makes a difference, this app will be free and not for profit.

  • Did you not read licensing.jamendo.com/en ? Oct 14, 2018 at 14:12
  • @BlueDogRanch Looking there, there is a personal (9.99usd), standard (49usd) and large licence (99usd). What would my app be covered under? The large licence says its ideal for apps but it is too expensive for me I am only expecting 500 downloads as that’s what I got last year. I am also going through the Creative Commons as I want the songs to be free if possible. I don’t mind spending 10usd though. Also would it cover me as I am in the uk?
    – iProgram
    Oct 14, 2018 at 14:21
  • @BlueDogRanch Interestingly, I have seen some of the songs (not all) from the Creative Commons search on that licensing site. This probably means I have to pay for it then?
    – iProgram
    Oct 14, 2018 at 14:47
  • These songs are folk songs. No-ones going to worry about you using the words. Only their interpretation. Have you written much music? Or written many songs? Nov 14, 2018 at 19:58
  • @MoziburUllah No I haven’t. I’m not really that creative. Most my app ideas is based on stuff I want and if I think that others would like it, I put it on the App Store. This is why I want to use pre-made music.
    – iProgram
    Nov 14, 2018 at 20:37

1 Answer 1


There are, under US law, two separate copyrights (at least) in any musical recording. The first is the copyright on the recording itself. The second is is the copyright on the musical composition that is being recorded. If that composition is an arrangement or modification of an original, there will be a separate copyright on the original, as well.

The copyright on the performance will be initially held by the musicians, but may have been signed over or sold to a recording company or someone else. If the performance was recorded before 1972, there will be no copyright under US Federal law, but there may be limited protection under state law.

The copyright on the composition, and on the arrangement if any, has terms basically the same as on a printed work. Works published before 1923 will be in the public domain. Later works may have a term of 95 years, or 70 years after the death of the author. See the cornell chart for details. Such copyrights are initially owned by the composer or composers, and possibly the writer of the lyrics, or in some cases the employer of the composer(s)/lyricist(s). They may well have been sold or transferred and be owned by some company.

The exact rules will differ under the laws of other countries, but the general structure is much the same, i understand.

To use a recording you must obtain permission (a license) for the recording itself, for the composition (unless it is out of copyright) and for any arrangement (unless the arrangement is out of copyright). Performing rights societies are how professional performers and venues usually secure such rights. They charge fees which depend on the use someone wants to make. They offer licenses to a variety of music for a single payment.

A recording released under a creative commons license may or may not include a license for the underlying composition. Often it does not. Also, someone who uploads a recording to an online site such as YouTube stating that it has a creative commons license, may be lying, have no rights to the recording at all, and expose any reusers to the chance of lawsuit. If you want to use and reproduce such recordings, you must verify that you have proper licenses from all copyright holders.

The site Jamendo says that it offers "royalty free" music for various purposes. It says that the recordings it offers have all needed rights included. It charges various fees depending on the kind of license purchased, with discounts for bulk purchases. It offers a guarantee against claims of infringement by 3rd parties, but the terms seem to make this guarantee quite limited. It appears that for use in an online/mobile app, one must purchase their 'large" license or higher. Its terms do not seem to be compatible with creative commons licenses. I know nothing about this site, or its reputation, beyond what it says of itself.

Most of its licenses seem to permit creation of derivative works with the licensed music part of an audiovisual or multimedia work, but not the unaltered distribution of the music by itself.

I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. Specifics matter in copyright cases. The above are only general principles.

  • I was emailing Jamendo today about the plan I needed. It was too expensive for me. I then asked about Creative Commons and they said that all music they have is under Creative Commons. It is just that some artists use ND and the NC license. This means that those songs "songs cannot be used in commercial projects and cannot be used in multimedia projects". Also, "The problem you can also have with Creative Commons is that it may not be enough in certain countries to prove your rights". So looks like you can use CC in apps for free, you just have to be careful.
    – iProgram
    Oct 15, 2018 at 17:05
  • Feel free to add some of this info into your answer!
    – iProgram
    Oct 15, 2018 at 17:05
  • An author can both release a work under a CC license, and under another license with different terms, and perhaps different fees, if the author so chooses. The statements of Jamendo quoted above do not seem to address the issue of copyright in the composition. In any case IF the recordings were released under CC-BY-ND-NC they can only be used as part of a derivative work (which a multi-media project would be) under a separate license, such as the one Jamendo sells. The same would apply to commercial use. Oct 15, 2018 at 18:09
  • I believe that Creative Commons licenses are recognized by pretty much all countries which adhere to the Berne copyright convention. So "The problem you can also have with Creative Commons is that it may not be enough in certain countries to prove your rights" sounds misleading or incorrect to me. What might be hard to prove is that the person who did the CC release had all the needed rights in the first place. Oct 15, 2018 at 18:15
  • +1: If looks good to me. Luckily all my work is original so I don't have to worry about appropriation. Nov 14, 2018 at 19:55

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