The addition of video to many of the newer DSLRs being released these days is turning some of us into amateur videographers. And, as we all know from watching movies and television, a good soundtrack can really add a lot of depth and emotion, and sometimes even make-or-break the video.

There are some things to keep in mind when adding sound and music to your videos, and one of the biggest considerations (in my opinion) is making sure you are using the music legally and not violating anyone’s copyright. As photographers we usually don’t want people using our images without licensing or permission, and the same goes for audio artists and musicians. Here are some guidelines and tips to keep in mind when working with audio:

“Buying a song” doesn’t equal “owning a license”.

Just because you paid $0.99 on iTunes to download the newest song from U2 doesn’t mean that you have the right to re-distribute and play the song in public. You are only allowed to use purchased songs for personal, noncommercial use, which means you cannot publicly play it online.

Royalty-free audio.

There are several websites that offer inexpensive royalty-free licenses on all types of audio, from sound-effects to full-length songs. This is a good option for those of you looking for more advanced songs and soundtrack and aren’t able to re-create them on your own, but are willing to pay a small price for using the audio and have a lot of flexibility on how to use and distribute it.

Creative Commons.

There are hundreds of websites online that offer audio tracks licensable through “Creative Commons” (here is a good list to get you started). Some of these licenses are free or inexpensive, but it’s important to read the fine print and be sure you are following the guidelines for each specific download (for example, you are usually required to give the original author credit for their music in your video).

Make your own.

Software programs such as Apple’s “Garage Band” make it very easy to create your own music, and you are able to use your audio creations in your videos under a royalty-free license. There are also other programs and loops you can download and piece together to form songs or background music.