There have been some significant changes to the way USA Cheer treats music licensing that you need to be aware of:
USA Cheer is no longer approving music providers, instead they are only providing a directory of providers who may or may not be following the law. This now puts the responsibility of ensuring music is correctly licensed onto coaches, event producers, music producers, and all other users of music.
The new music directory now states:
“USA Cheer does not audit any of the music producers on this list in connection with their representations, and disclaims any responsibility for the actions or inactions of any of the companies on this list. Be aware that the use of any recordings without the proper licenses from the owners of the recordings and the owners of all the publishing rights, regardless of who sells that music, may be prohibited by law.”
“As an end user of music, it is important that you understand music copyright law and know the limits of any licensing agreements undertaken with your music producers.”
So coaches, event producers, music producers / editors and anyone else that uses music, are responsible for checking that their music licenses follow US copyright law for the use they are making of the music. Under US copyright law the penalty for using music for which your team or school don’t have the appropriate licenses is up to $150,000 per occurrence (ie per track), so its worth taking time to understand the law!
We’ve put together some simple summaries and tips for you to help you quickly and easily verify that your music licenses are fully legal under US copyright law.
What are the rights I need?
In summary you need the rights to:
edit and adapt each track you are using into a music mix. This is sometimes called creating a ‘derivative work’ of each track.
copy the mix and distribute it within your team, for preparation purposes. This is sometimes called a ‘mechanical right’.
put choreography to the mix, and perform the routine to the music mix. This is sometimes called a ‘grand right’.
You need to get these rights, in the form of licenses, for each track you use in your mix.
You need licenses from:
the person who owns the recording of the song (sometimes called the owner of the ‘master recording’ or ‘master rights’), and
each and every person who was involved in writing the song (normally called the ‘publishing rights’).
This last publishing point is especially important if you use sound-a-like cover music, from vendors who have re-created a hit song and offer the rights to their new recording. They should also as part of that process have got all the necessary publishing rights to pass on to you. Unfortunately this isn’t usually the case, so you need to be careful.
If you want to dive into the detail behind this, please refer to our educational resources:
Where do I get the rights from?
The people who provide each recording that you use in your mix should have obtained licenses from each and every person that was involved in writing the song (‘publishing rights’).
They should have done this if they are complying with both US copyright law, and if they signed the agreement with USA Cheer that they signed to be included in the new directory.
However, the majority of music that has been used in the cheer market to date does NOT offer all the publishing rights you need. The tracks only offer the right to create copies of the music, not create adaptations or choreograph to the works which means that if you were to use this type of music you are then left to obtain these rights individually in order to comply with US copyright and USA Cheer music guidelines.
You therefore need to be particularly careful and review the licenses you have been getting with your music.
For more information on the traditional licensing process, and how complicated publishing rights can be to license, please see:
There are three big things to look out for in music licenses.
That they cover the three key rights you need (to edit and adapt into a mix, copy and distribute the mix, and choreograph and carry out a routine to the mix)
Whether they are limited to master rights only, and therefore don’t include the publishing rights that you need.
That they offer a warranty, backed by an indemnity (whereby the provider will cover all your costs if it turns out they are not telling the truth - remember that’s $150,000 for each illegal use).
All ClicknClear’s tracks have these legal points built into the license.
More background detail relevant to this section can be found here:
The best protection you can get is to make sure the provider of music that you want to use gives you a warranty agreement that uses USA Cheer’s language to say that the tracks you are licensing from them each:
comply with all copyright laws
come with all the necessary rights from the owner of the master recording and the owners of the all the publishing rights
come with an indemnity against any breach of the warranties you have been given
Any provider who has properly complied with the USA Cheer agreement should be happy to offer this to you as a straightforward matter of course.
If they refuse to sign up to any part of this, do not use their music unless you are prepared to take on the job of understanding what rights they do in fact grant you and seek out the rest of the publishing licenses from the music industry yourself.
Here is a short warranty agreement you can use with either the music providers themselves if you license tracks directly from them, or with your music producer.
Music Licensing Warranty Agreement
This warranty agreement (the “Agreement”) is entered into on the date signed by Vendor (the “Effective Date”) by:
[YOUR TEAM, GYM, SCHOOL, COMPANY, OR PERSONAL NAME] of [YOUR ADDRESS] (“Participant”);
[MUSIC PROVIDER OR MUSIC PRODUCER NAME, INCLUDING LEGAL ENTITY eg Inc. or Limited] of [MUSIC PROVIDER OR MUSIC PRODUCER ADDRESS], (“Vendor”).
A) Vendor hereby warrants and represents to Participant that:
The creation of each recorded music track that Vendor supplies to Participant, or is used in a music mix supplied by Vendor to Participant, (a “Track”), has complied with applicable US copyright law.
Each Track is provided to Participant with licenses from i) the owners of the recording; and ii) the owners of all the publishing rights to the composition embodied in the Track, that are required by Participant to legally:
Edit and adapt the Track to create a derivative work as part of a music mix or use the track alone, (a “Mix”), for the purposes of accompanying the performance of a cheer or dance routine;
Copy and distribute the Track or Mix within the team for training and preparation for the intended purpose;
Put choreography to the Mix (a “Routine”), and perform such Routine in public.
Vendor has and will maintain during the term of this Agreement, at its sole cost and expense, commercially sufficient insurance with limits that are appropriate for the execution of this Agreement and of others Vendor’s activities and obligations hereunder, understanding that each occurrence of using music for which there is not appropriate permission may result in damages of up to USD $150,000 plus legal fees and costs.
Vendor has full power and authority to enter into this Agreement, and has complied with all applicable laws and regulations regarding the subject matter herein.
B) Vendor hereby indemnifies, defends, and holds harmless Participant and its successors, and their respective officers, directors, employees, and agents from any claims, demands, suits, damages, losses, liabilities, out of pocket costs, and expenses (including without limitation actual attorneys’ fees or legal, accounting, and other expenses) arising out of any (a) breach of a representation or warranty by Vendor in this Agreement; (b) third-party claim of infringement, misappropriation or unauthorized use of any copyright or any other intellectual property right, as a result of products or services provided by Vendor; or (c) any other material breach of this Agreement. This section B shall survive any expiration or termination of this Agreement.
FOR AND ON BEHALF OF PARTICIPANT: FOR AND ON BEHALF OF VENDOR:
Signed _______________________ Signed _______________________
Print name ____________________ Print name ____________________
Date _________________________ Date _________________________
Click the link below to download a clean pdf copy of the above agreement.