What Is Ephemeral Use, and How Does It Affect Me?

Here’s why sporting events and news broadcasts may be able to use your music without a sync license.

Under United States copyright law, a copyright owner has the exclusive right to exploit their own material. However, there is an exception to this rule known as “ephemeral recordings.”  It allows for the temporary use of copyrighted material, which means broadcasters can legally use your music in certain situations without paying a sync fee.

An example of this would be a live sporting event or newscast where it’s nearly impossible for the broadcaster to get clearance for music in real time. For example, if a song is played over the loudspeaker at a stadium when a live broadcast is occurring, the broadcaster is not legally obligated to obtain a license for that song. 

Music used during a pre-recorded broadcast can also be considered ephemeral use sometimes. This rule applies if the broadcaster makes only one copy of the work, doesn’t distribute it to any other outside entities, and destroys the copy within six months. The same goes for live radio broadcasts. 

Ephemeral use is specific to broadcasters and does not apply to other situations such as individual producers, production houses, promos, and commercials. If you would like more detailed information, please check out this article

If you are ever concerned about the use of your music, and are not sure what category it falls under, please use our Support Form to submit a ticket and reach our Client Services Team. You can find this form by logging into your account and finding the link on your client dashboard. We are more than happy to investigate.


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