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So, we are beginning to create a Karaoke app. And we have few queries in the copyrights aspect. We would like to have these cleared before we get any further with our app's development.

The decided functionality of the app is, user shall upload a song track from their iPhone and upload it in our app. Our app sends that to our backend which process the song track and return its karaoke version with suppressed vocals.

The doubt here is, will Apple reject this? Since we will never be sure whether the user uploaded a song for which he has a legal copyright.

  1. Is it ok to let users upload the songs irrelevant of copyright? (Consider Dubsmash app, I believe not all the users are uploading copyright protected audio clips)
  2. Say, we would like to include few songs in our app by default (like in Smule app). Do we need to buy copyright/licenses for those songs and then upload or is there a work around?
  3. And what if the app is targeting a specific country alone (India)? Does it still need to satisfy U.S copyright law?

Any help is much appreciated. And I am not sure whether this is the right place to ask this question, if not it will be great if could point me a place to ask these questions.

Thank you!

  • even with a well thought out response with facts, you are at the mercy of apple here. they can, will, and do reject apps for reasons that are unclear all the time. – albert Mar 23 '17 at 14:39
  • It may be worth the price of entry to sit down with an experienced intellectual property attorney for this one- even if that costs you a few hundred dollars this is a fraction of the cost a lawsuit would. – Will Manidis Mar 23 '17 at 15:56
  • We are actually getting in contact with few Music directors and use their songs in our app by default (the ones that will be pre-available in app, without user needing to upload anything). But again, will we be sued if the user uploads a song that doesn't have proper copyrights? – Nina Mar 24 '17 at 6:42
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  1. As long as you don't keep the song anywhere on your servers, and have clear warnings "Do not transform songs that you are not allowed to transform", I believe you don't risk that much. You are just an audio conversion online tool, and your app is just a music player.

  2. Yes, you will need to buy the songs you want to include. Contact a music company and see what they offer for what price. You can also choose songs that are free to embed in your app, check for instance https://www.jamendo.com and check the license of the songs.

  3. India and the U.S. have copyright agreements, you can not ignore copyright of a song just because its copyright is owned by a U.S.-based company.

Will Apple reject it? Nobody knows, Apple takes arbitrary and sometimes incomprehensible decisions.

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