TikTok copyright explained: How to use copyrighted music on TikTok

Keep your account safe from copyright claims with an easy-to-follow checklist for using copyrighted music on TikTok.

Sandy Beeson
Image that includes different symbols relating to TikTok copyright.

Posting your latest TikTok video and seeing it reach people around the world is an awesome feeling. What’s less enjoyable is the feeling when your video is taken down because of TikTok copyright issues. Which is why knowing how to use copyrighted music on TikTok is a vital part of being a creator.

One of the great things about TikTok is you can feature the latest Nicki Minaj or Kendrick Lamarr track in your content. But while tons of popular songs are available, you can’t just use any music you like. That’s because, in a worst case scenario, your TikTok account can be taken down if you’re caught using copyrighted music without permission.

And that’s just TikTok. If you’re a creator posting across different platforms, the music available on TikTok might land you with copyright issues elsewhere. But these problems are easily avoided. All it takes is an understanding of how to use copyrighted music on TikTok.

TLDR: Using copyrighted music on TikTok can be fine, but it can also cause some major headaches. Basically, you need to have permission to use a track in your videos, because it’s probably protected by music copyright.

If you’re not sure what music copyright is or how it works, we’ve pulled together some of the key info you need to know. But if you’re already up to speed, skip ahead to learn more about how to use copyrighted music on TikTok.

Creator thinking about what music copyright means on TikTok.

Let’s start with the legal bit. When music’s copyrighted, it means it’s protected by copyright law. This gives artists and musicians legal protection over their work and ensures they earn money when people use it. 

How much they get paid depends on different factors like the size of the project or how popular the musician is. After all, you’re going to pay more to feature Coldplay in an international ad campaign than you are for an independent artist featuring on a YouTube video.


If you want to dig deeper into music copyright and learn about all the different types of rights musicians have, check out our guide to music licensing.

But how does music copyright affect you? Essentially it means you can’t use music unless you have permission from the artist themselves. And chances are you don’t have Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran on speed dial.

The thing is, TikTok does actually let you use snippets of many popular songs, thanks to its licensing agreements with major labels. But it doesn't mean you can use any song in its entirety without repercussions. 

You always need to have permission to use a track. Which is where copyright-free music comes in. It gives you the option of downloading music which is safe to use in your content and avoids the threat of copyright claims.

What happens if you use copyrighted music on TikTok?

Illustration of a machine representing TikTok scanning phones for copyrighted content.

Every time you post a video to TikTok, it’ll be checked for copyrighted music. You won’t have a problem if you have permission to use a track, either by selecting songs through the TikTok app or by licensing copyright-free music.

However, if TikTok finds out you’re not authorized to use a particular track, the consequences can be severe. And with three different ways TikTok can detect copyrighted material in videos, don't think you can get away with it:

✅ An automated system checks every video posted

✅ Content moderators check for content that goes against TikTok’s community guidelines

✅ TikTok’s users can report copyright infringement

What happens if you get a copyright claim?

The first time you use copyrighted music without permission, TikTok can choose to remove your video from the platform. You’ll receive a notification from TikTok if this happens, giving you the chance to appeal if you believe you have permission to use the track.

And what happens if you get more than one claim?

Be warned, TikTok can hand out stricter punishments if you’re found to post copyrighted material on multiple occasions. You could see your account suspended or terminated, and TikTok might even ban you from ever opening a new account.

What music can I use in branded TikTok videos?

Everyone on TikTok needs to be careful about the music they use, but if you’re making money from branded posts or ads you have to be extra cautious. Not everything in TikTok’s library of tracks is cleared for commercial use, which means your content could be taken down.

You do have the option of using TikTok’s dedicated Commercial Music Library. But you only have a couple of thousand tracks to choose from and the quality isn’t great. If you want a certified banger for your money-making video, the best way to guarantee your content won’t be taken down is by licensing copyright-free music.

Explore Uppbeat

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Uppbeat has a catalog packed full of incredible copyright-free music safe to use in your promotional TikTok videos. What’s more, you can use the same tracks across different platforms, which you can’t do with music found in the TikTok app.

A creator looks frustrated after receiving a TikTok copyright claim.

If you believe TikTok has wrongly flagged your video due to copyright issues, don't fret. It’s easy to dispute a copyright claim on TikTok. Simply check the notification you received about the violation and follow the instructions. Or you can fill out TikTok’s Counter Notification Form online. Just make sure you give TikTok as much information as possible, including any relevant licenses you have.

A creator looking happy because they are confident about how to use copyrighted music on TikTok.

There’s no reason you should be falling foul of music copyright on TikTok. Avoiding copyright issues is easier than the most straightforward dance trend. All it takes is three steps to keep in TikTok’s good books:

1️⃣ Does my content use copyrighted music?

If it does then you need to have permission from the copyright holder, otherwise you’re leaving yourself open to getting a copyright claim. Music from TikTok’s library is generally fine, but you want to be careful if you’re adding your own sound.


TikTok has a feature which checks your videos for copyrighted material. Head to Creator Tools and then hit the toggle for Video sound copyright check. Now every time you post, TikTok will check your video and let you know if there is any copyrighted music.

2️⃣ Have I got permission to use the music?

Put simply, if you don’t have permission to use a track, you’re likely to get a copyright claim. The easiest way to get permission is to download copyright-free music that’s safe to use in your music.

3️⃣ Do I need to dispute a TikTok copyright claim?

If you believe TikTok has flagged your content incorrectly, you can dispute a copyright claim by filling out TikTok’s Counter Notification Form online.

Want to be certain the music in your video is safe to use across TikTok and other platforms? Copyright-free music is the way to go. By purchasing a license, you’re showing TikTok you have permission to use those tracks in your content.

Uppbeat is a music platform designed for content creators like you, with a world-class catalog packed full of incredible copyright-free music. You can find your perfect soundtrack in seconds using the AI Playlist Generator, and start downloading tracks for free. But if you’re looking for more options, we’ve compiled a list of the best free music websites for you to explore.

Examples of different TikTok accounts to accompany an FAQ section about TikTok copyright.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how copyright issues happen on TikTok. And know the ways to avoid them. But when it comes to protecting your videos, you’re naturally going to have questions. So we rounded up some of the most common and answered them below:

Will I get a copyright claim if I only use a short clip?

If you don’t have permission to use a track, it doesn’t matter how short the clip is. You can get a copyright claim for even the littlest sample of Lil Wayne. It’s simply not worth the risk!

Will giving credit to the artist stop copyright issues?

Giving credit to the artist comes from a good place, but it doesn't give you any legal rights to a song. The best way to show respect to the musicians behind the tracks you use is to have the necessary permission.

Are all songs in TikTok's library safe to use?

Generally, yes. If a song is available in TikTok's library, you can use it in your videos without fearing copyright repercussions. But there are two exceptions to this.

You can’t use tracks from TikTok’s library on other platforms. And the only music from TikTok can add to branded content is tracks from the Commercial Music Library. It’s worth mentioning you can use copyright-free music from Uppbeat in both of these instances though!

I see many popular TikTokers using copyrighted songs. Does this mean I can use them too?

Not necessarily! Other creators might have permission to use copyrighted music, so there's no guarantee your content won't be flagged or removed. Always ensure you have the rights to use any music in your content.

How does TikTok identify copyrighted music in videos?

TikTok has three ways it identifies copyright music in videos uploaded to its platform. It has an automated system checking every video and a dedicated team of moderators searching for violations. And if that’s not enough, TikTok also lets users report copyright infringements themselves.

If I speed up or slow down a song, does it avoid copyright detection?

Modifying a song's speed or pitch doesn’t mean you have permission to use it in your content. You’ll still need to seek out a license to use the track, even if you intend to edit it yourself.

How can I contest a copyright violation if I believe it's incorrect?

If your video is flagged and you believe it's a mistake or you have the rights to the music, you can fill out TikTok’s Counter Notification Form online.

Can I use copyright-free music in my TikTok videos?

If you have licensed copyright-free music and have permission to use the tracks, you can go ahead and include it in your TikTok content.

What happens if I repeatedly violate copyright on TikTok?

At a minimum, you will have your content taken down if you are found to violate copyright on TikTok. But if you are caught multiple times, you could see your TikTok account suspended or even taken down.

Creators looking excited because they are posting TikTok videos without having to worry about TikTok copyright claims.

Now you’re familiar with how copyright works on TikTok, it’s easy to steer clear of issues and keep your videos safe from being taken down. So go ahead and carry on posting content armed with the knowledge that making the right music choices will keep your TikTok account safe.

Understanding what music you can use in TikTok videos is half the battle. You also need to be aware of the limitations if you want to monetize your content or share it on other platforms. Which is why copyright-free music from Uppbeat is the way to go if you want quality music that can be used across all of your content.

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