Magazine / 25 June 2024

Music on Instagram: This is allowed

Foto: Philipp Lützenburger

Reels, stories, videos: Music is omnipresent on Instagram. Using music on Instagram for non-commercial purposes has just become easier for private individuals such as yourself - thanks to an agreement between GEMA and Instagram. We gathered the most important points regarding the legal situation for you here.

Copyright in connection with music use on Instagram

Nearly all musical works are subject to copyright: This type of law governs that it is creators alone deciding who can use their music and under which conditions. A creator may, for example, completely prohibit the use of music or ask for a licence fee for it.

Creators may, however, also instruct third parties such as GEMA to represent their rights. As a collective management organisation, we make sure that creators are paid their due remuneration whenever their songs are used in public - such as on Instagram.

What do I need to know as a content creator when I use music on Instagram?

Via its subsidiary company ICE, GEMA grants online rights represented by GEMA to META platforms (e.g. Facebook and Instagram) and other comparable services such as TikTok or YouTube via licence agreements. This means that the licensing aspect of the music used is therefore settled in this respect. As a private individual and a non-commercial creator, you therefore do not have to do anything in addition and can use the songs provided in the Instagram music library.

What music sources may I use on Instagram?

As a private individual, the easiest option for you is to use the music library of Instagram. The platform explicitly grants this right to its users provided that the music is exclusively used on Instagram and only for personal content. Using it for commercial and non-personal purposes, is, however, not permitted. More on this in our help centre article on the Instagram music library. Companies and commercial users will also find useful information under this link. GEMA supports creatives, content creators and music fans when it comes to using music and ensures at the same time that the composers, lyricists and music publishers are also fairly remunerated for this kind of use. Because we value music.

May I also upload music from other sources on Instagram?

In principle, you can also use music on Instagram which does not originate from the Instagram music library. The online rights that GEMA represents have been granted for personal use. It is, however, possible that there are other rights in the music recordings that you need to obtain first. With the Instagram music library, you are on the safe side.

What music is licence-free on Instagram?

The term “licence-free music” is not correct, because that kind of music is also subject to copyright. In most cases, reference is made to music without a licence fee and thus music which can be used free of charge. Since Instagram has already granted the online rights in the GEMA repertoire (see above), you can use all songs from the Instagram music library free of charge since you are a private individual.

What happens to uploaders who use music without a licence on Instagram?

When it comes to GEMA, the rights are granted via the licence agreements with META and similar services based on the notion that platforms are responsible for the uses, not the uploaders. As such, GEMA has not taken action against uploaders so far (it has neither issued written warnings not taken other similar action).

Don’t forget: Apart from the rightsholders represented by GEMA, there is a range of other rightsholders [and their representatives] who (can) exercise their rights vis-à-vis the services, usually at international level and therefore also for the territory of Germany: These are other collective management organisations, publishers for online usage rights and non-commercial and commercial synch rights and various labels for the master rights / neighbouring rights. It is up to these rightsholders how they manage their rights. GEMA has no influence on this.

Which other rights have to be taken into consideration for Instagram videos with music?

GEMA also represents the synch rights in the online sector for non-commercial content (non-commercial UGC) on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. To ensure the usage of synch rights, GEMA has put into place a contract with the respective platforms. Please check out our help centre section synchronisation rights for social media for additional information for GEMA members about what rights GEMA represents vis-à-vis social media platforms and how the income generated is distributed.