Most music is protected under international copyright law in the same way photography and illustrations are protected. It is illegal to sample bits and pieces of songs you love to use in your own audio or video works. In the same way as you must not simply grab whatever you want from the results of a Google Image search, you should never use any music you please without first establishing that you have permission to use it.
However, just like the generous folk who share their images on the ‘net, there are lots of talented musicians who offer an enormous variety of different types of music under creative commons licensing. The Creative Commons web site has a list of links to sites which feature music you can use. The rules for attribution are the same as for images – you must credit the composer, and if possible offer a link back to the page where you found the song or tune.
Start out in the media industry respecting the copyright of other people. In the long run, the benefits are clear: you won’t end up being sued, and you’ll start your career in a professional and courteous manner. And then you can expect others to respect your own copyright. Win-win!
CC-LICENCED SOUND EFFECTS
Sound shouldn’t just be ripped off either. But bless the souls of the people making and uploading creative stuff, because there are also a number of great sites where you can find CC-licenced sound effects. Start with Sound Bible, and then explore the others listed. You can also use the familiar CC Search to look through Soundcloud, CC Mixter and YouTube.