Recently, we have become aware of some royalty free music libraries that do not protect their music previews with watermarks.
On Media Music Now we provide full track previews but every 10-12 seconds or so the word “preview” or “Media Music Now” can be heard. While some may find this mildly irritating, providing there is a good balance and the watermark is not too obtrusive with the actual music it is acceptable and from our experience 99% of users do not have a problem with it. They can accept that we need to protect our content from unauthorised use and do not have a problem selecting music because of it.
Clearly, in an ideal world it would be better not to have these watermarks and it actually takes time to implement them onto the tracks.
So why bother?
Well, the sad but real fact is that without this watermark the music would be stolen (used without a license) and our composers who create a living from their talents would suffer as a result.
We have recently experienced anecdotal evidence from composers that are finding their music being used without payment and we have also been the victim of scraper sites ourselves.
In the case of people using music without paying, they simply find the site that has the music unprotected and download it or record it from the open browser. Either way it is really simple.
Amazingly, we are also aware of companies who are prepared to use music if they can get it without paying. Sometimes this is intentional, but other times in ignorance.
Some production music libraries allow clients to access the full quality music and trust that the user will complete cue sheets (another subject altogether). In reality quite a bit of this music gets used fraudulently.
In the case of scraper sites, there are programs that scour the web for content then make it available for free use. Around 15,000 of our tracks fell victim to this last year. Luckily, all of our music has an audio watermark to prevent unlicensed use.
Crazy or Shrewd?
So, are libraries that don’t watermark royalty free music leaving it open to abuse or are they making a shrewd business move that will please their clients?
Personally, I believe that the only way to protect our music and income is with an audio watermark. In my opinion, having unprotected music online is leaving your music library open to free use.
What are your thoughts? Are you a composer or library with your own experiences to share or experienced similar issues? Are you a buyer of music… How do you feel about watermarks? If so, feel free to share your view.