How Artists Shield Their Music From Theft On Spotify - Drishti Law

According to the United States Sentencing Commission, the vast majority of copyright infringement cases are filed for a median amount of around $100,000. This startling number speaks to the value of your intellectual property and everything that can go wrong if you’re not smart about dealing with artists’ work.

So whether you are an audio engineer looking to sample music from existing artists on Spotify or an up and coming artist looking to protect your creative projects, copyright issues are always something that you need to bear in mind. This may seem complicated at first but there is no need to worry – for a series of simple considerations can guide you toward the right decisions.

We’ll look into such considerations over the course of this blog post. If you wish to learn more about how artists can copyright their music, check out our guide here.

How You Can Protect Your Music From Copyright Infringement

Piracy has been a concern for as long as the internet has been around. If you’re not diligent, someone might end up profiting from your work. But there are certain precautions you can take when you distribute music, that can make this unlikely.

Spotify’s Complaint Procedure For Copyright Owners

For starters, if you publish your music on Spotify, be it yourself or through record labels, it’s always a good idea to go through Spotify’s copyright policy. If you hold the exclusive right to distribute your music and see a publisher using Spotify’s platform to profit from your work, there is a simple process to report your claim. Spotify has made the process extremely simple for copyright holders. 

First of all, you can simply fill their web form with details of your complaint. While this is something you can do yourself, it is a good idea to consult an attorney for this process. Alternatively, you can also report online copyright infringement by sending a notice to Spotify’s copyright agent with the following details:

  1. A physical or electronic signature of the owner (or person authorized to act on behalf of the owner) of the copyright that is allegedly infringed;
  2. Specific identification of each copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed;
  3. A description of where the material believed to be infringing is located on Spotify Service or the Spotify Websites (please be as detailed as possible and provide a URL to help us locate the material you are reporting);
  4. Contact information for the complaining party, such as a complete name, address, telephone number, and email address;
  5. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the work(s) in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and
  6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and that the complaining party is the owner of the right that is allegedly infringed, or agent for the owner.

Strategies to Fortify Against Theft

1. Monitor Your Spotify Presence: Regularly check Spotify for any unauthorized use of your music. Utilize available tools and services to track mentions, streams, and engagements. Swift detection enables timely action against potential theft.

2. Secure Your Spotify Artist Profile: Claim and verify your Spotify artist profile to establish a direct connection with your audience. This official verification adds credibility to your presence and minimizes the risk of impostors stealing your musical identity.

3. Utilize Digital Rights Management (DRM) Tools: Explore digital tools designed to prevent unauthorized copying or distribution of your music. While not foolproof, DRM tools act as an additional layer of defense against theft.

Responding to Music Theft Incidents

In the unfortunate event of music theft, you should:

  1. Document Evidence: Gather evidence of the original creation, timestamps, and any relevant communication establishing ownership.
  2.  Issue a Cease and Desist Notice: If unauthorized use is confirmed, send a cease and desist notice to the infringing party, demanding the immediate removal of the stolen content.
  3. Seek Legal Counsel: In cases of persistent theft, consult with legal professionals specializing in intellectual property to explore legal actions against the infringing party.

How To Ethically Use Someone Else’s Work

If you’re looking to use an artist’s work from Spotify and other streaming services, you should know that this is only possible under limited circumstances.  Generally, using someone’s music would give rise to a number of issues and could possible lead to a lawsuit too.

But, if you use it within the boundaries of the law, you will steer clear of such issues. These boundaries are outlined below. Nonetheless, if you are subjected to a copyright infringement claim by an artist or music publishing agency, check out our guide on responding to a copyright infringement notice.

Non-Copyrighted Music

Before contemplating the issues you might encounter as a creator using someone else’s tunes, you must ensure that the music in question is protected under law.  Because sometimes, it just might happen that a piece of music you’re looking to use from a streaming service doesn’t have any copyright protection to begin with! This is called copyright-free music that creators can use freely on any platform without worrying about copyright infringement. 

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many times, copyright owners tend to retain some form of ownership over their music. After all, that is how people earn their keep in the music industry. Sometimes, music on streaming platforms like Spotify exists under a “Creative Commons” license. What this means is that while the music is technically copyrighted, usage may be allowed under specific circumstances. To accurately figure out what those circumstances may be, you will need to look at the type of Creative Commons license under which the music exists.

How Do I Know If A Song Is Copyrighted On Spotify?

Jumping through legal hurdles to avoid copyright infringement claims seems like a daunting task. But it is not so complicated when you get a hang of the essential principles and framework under which copyright protections exist. If you’re looking to copyright your own work by any chance, do check out our detailed, step-by-step guide on the process.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule of avoiding copyright infringement claims is to generally only use music that is your own original work. And if you do happen to use someone else’s work, make sure you have the express consent of the authors. This way, you won’t find yourself caught in the middle of a copyright infringement claim and risk having to pay royalties. 

How You Can Avoid Using Copyrighted Music

1. Licensed Music Libraries

There are many ways to do this. One good way to ensure that you never find yourself tangled up in a copyright dispute with a label is to only use music from licensed libraries. These are the go-to places for content creators looking to incorporate music into their content.  As a rule, you should make sure to read the terms and conditions on such sites to ensure that your use is permitted.

2. Royalty-Free Music

Sometimes, artists have their works protected under copyright law but for the sake of promoting creativity, they choose to keep their work royalty-free. Essentially, this means that you are free to use that piece of music without having to pay a royalty to a creator. 

3. Public Domain

Copyrights are always subject to expiration. So if you happen to be using a song or melody that is kind of old, you may be in the clear! Generally, songs published before 1925 are in the public domain and, as such, are freely usable by the general public.

If, despite best practices, you find yourself in the middle of a copyright claim on Youtube, check out our quick guide on getting rid of copyright claims on Youtube.


While it may seem like music on Spotify would have the requisite copyright protections, conducting research and making sure is extremely important for you as a creator. There are many nuances to the world of intellectual property.

With everything accessible at the fingertips, it is doubly important to ensure that you cross your t’s and dot your i’s when it comes to using someone else’s work. Ethical use helps create harmony within the industry and you’ll only do yourself a favor if you’re diligent about the pitfalls you might encounter.