21st February 2010
Lives for gear
Here's the real scoop:
If you use copyrighted material without permission, you can be sued. Period. If that copyrighted material was not registered within 3 months of publication, they can only sue you for an injunction and actual damages. In your case, that may equate to an injunction and $0.
But if they registered their copyright within 3 months of publication, they can come after you for statutory copyright damages. Those damages range from $750 to $30,000 per infringement. If the infringement is deemed to be willful, the maximum goes up to $150,000 per infringement.
Yes, the fact that you are using it for a free mix tape can be raised as part of a "fair use" defense, but the fact that you are not profiting WILL NOT prevent you from being sued. So, if you want to risk $150,000 + legal fees...well, that's the territory you're in.