As of last week, Splice subscribers can generate a PDF document that shows the certified license for any sample they have downloaded on our platform. If this sounds like peak boredom to you, you’ve probably never received a flag from a hosting platform like YouTube, CDBaby or DistroKid, claiming that your track is not 100% original. Read on to learn more…
Why do I need a certified license for my Splice samples?
Every single sample on Splice is 100% royalty free, meaning they’re free to use, even for commercial use. This means you can download samples on Splice, then make and release original music with those samples, and you don’t owe Splice (or anyone else) any more than your subscription fee, even if your track goes viral or gets picked up by Taylor Swift. However, you still need to disclose the use of third-party materials in your new content / creation.
The license that your subscription grants is perpetual and non-exclusive, meaning you have rights to use the sounds that you download forever, but so does every other Splice user who has downloaded those samples through our platform. Therefore, when you want to distribute your new content / creation with a third party (e.g., YouTube, CD Baby, Distrokid, etc.), you can now provide a copy of the certified license to any third-party distributor, which will disclose that your new content / creation contains a sample and that your use of that sample is permitted and verified. Perpetual, non-exclusive licenses have been the status quo for as long as sample packs have existed, and the system has worked fine… until recently.
How do hosting platforms check for copyright infringement?
To combat copyright infringement, platforms like YouTube use automatic copyright detection algorithms, which analyze submitted audio and compare it to a massive database of copyright-registered music. Overall, this is a great thing for producers, musicians and labels; it prevents folks from using an artist’s music without permission, or without paying for the rights to do so.
But problems arise when these automatic systems detect a royalty-free sample as a unique factor of the work. This is especially relevant for vocal samples, long instrumental loops, and other samples that are likely to be used in full, without alteration, because they stand out to the auto-analyzers. And, once a recognizable sample is associated with a song, every time the algorithm ‘hears’ the sample, a copyright infringement flag is issued to every subsequent creator who uses it prominently.
At Splice, we’ve been aware of this issue for some time, and we have supported affected users with a manual process to generate certified licenses upon request, which is less than ideal for all parties involved (shouts to our content team for staffing the emails and generating licenses by hand). In an ideal world, the third-party distributor detection systems would compare the audio to the Splice catalog and other royalty-free sound libraries out there to rule out any false copyright infringement claims.
How to generate a certified license for your Splice samples
Until this is a reality, we’ve designed an automated system where you can generate a certified license document, in PDF format, right from the Splice website. Just go to Your Sounds, select the sample (or samples) you would like to be included in the license, and click ‘Generate certified license’ either from the ⋮ dropdown, or from the sidebar. Enter your full legal name, as well as the artist or producer name that will be used when releasing the work. Then, click ‘Generate certified license’ and the PDF document will land in your browser’s downloads folder. From here, you can upload the document when you submit your release to show proof of your license.
While we can’t guarantee that your tracks won’t get flagged in the future, this certified license will be all you need to show proof that you can use the sample legally, to dispute the claim and get your music out to the world as soon and seamlessly as possible.
How much does it cost to generate a certified license for your Splice samples?
Generating a certified license is completely free, and you can generate as many licenses as you want, with any combination of sounds in your library. The only condition is that you need to have downloaded the sample or samples using credits from your Splice account (don’t worry, the system doesn’t let you generate a license for samples you don’t have rights for).