I am a music producer and am releasing an album shortly of which I own the copyright to the tracks (although some Master Recordings are signed to a record label in a commercial agreement).

I would like to adapt one piece of CC BY SA video footage for a music video accompanying my original music. If I do so, can the resultant music video have two copyrights ie one for the video component (CC BY SA) and one for the music (All Rights Reserved)? I don’t want my album to suddenly become CC BY SA as a result of this.

  • 1
    What license do you want to allow for the entire combination? For example, if I have a .mp4 file with both the video (CC-BY-SA) and the audio (your audio), then am I allowed to use that file in the manner specified by CC-BY-SA ? I.e. am I allowed to share it with attribution?
    – Brandin
    Apr 23 at 14:05
  • I would not want the resultant mp4 file to be CC BY SA as a further derivative work could be to simply strip the music from the file and then simply use the music somewhere else.
    – Aaron
    Apr 23 at 16:53
  • 2
    Tangent: If you create a custom mix of one song for a music video, then you can release that custom mix under one license while keeping the rest of the album's original mix under another license. This protects you from your feared scenario in the ultimate sentence.
    – Corbin
    Apr 23 at 21:53
  • Which version of CC BY-SA is used by the video (e.g., 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc.)? The different versions of the CC BY-SA license are sufficiently different such that it likely matters in this case which one was chosen for the video.
    – Makyen
    Apr 24 at 7:45

2 Answers 2


It is an interesting question, because the CC BY-SA license explicitly mentions the situation the other way around (using existing CC BY-SA music in a video production), but not your case.

In CC BY-SA 4.0, we can read:

Section 1 – Definitions.

Adapted Material means material subject to Copyright and Similar Rights that is derived from or based upon the Licensed Material and in which the Licensed Material is translated, altered, arranged, transformed, or otherwise modified in a manner requiring permission under the Copyright and Similar Rights held by the Licensor. For purposes of this Public License, where the Licensed Material is a musical work, performance, or sound recording, Adapted Material is always produced where the Licensed Material is synched in timed relation with a moving image.

So, when creating a video and using CC BY-SA licensed music in there, this definition states that you are always creating Adapted Material. The license also states that Adapted Material needs to be released under the CC BY-SA license.

I cannot definitively tell you how your case will be evaluated in light of this, but I can imagine that people will assume your music video is/should be fully under the CC BY-SA license because the video part of it was published that way and I can also imagine a judge holding the same opinion when you try to uphold your copyrights.

The best advise I can give you is to double-check my analysis with a qualified lawyer and/or find or create suitable video content that isn't under a ShareAlike license.

  • 1
    I agree that synchronising two media in a timed relation is an adaptation of both sources, not only the audio.
    – OrangeDog
    Apr 24 at 11:06

The question here is whether a music video is one work, or an aggregation of a visual work and an audio work. While it is commentary on a different license, the well-known GPL FAQ "Mere Aggegration" question is relevant here:

What is the difference between an “aggregate” and other kinds of “modified versions”?


This is a legal question, which ultimately judges will decide.

From a technical point of view, I am well aware that a music video is two separate streams of data, one visual and one audio and the two are easily separable. From an artistic point of view, I can see the argument that music videos are an art form of themselves and you cannot separate the two - consider for example Madonna's Vogue video, which is inimately tied to the music itself.

It is entirely possible that courts would rule differently if asked about different music videos, or that two courts in different jurisdictions would rule differently if asked about the same music video.

Personally, I don't think I'd take the chance, at least not without obtaining professional advice, but your risk appetite may be different from mine.

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