As a mapper, you should have permission from relevant copyright holders for audio/visual/gameplay assets included in your beatmap submissions. Without permission, your beatmaps are at risk of being removed and you are at risk of being denied access to the submission system as per the osu! copyright policy.
To ensure a your account remains in good standing, it is recommended to create beatmaps using assets that are any of the following:
When looking for songs outside of osu!'s featured artist catalog, check whether or not its creator has explicitly stated usage terms. This information can often be found in description sections of an artist's music release platforms (e.g. Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube) or their personal website. If a song is licensed under a Creative Commons License or is available for non-commercial use, it is safe to create and submit a beatmap for it.
If you want to create a beatmap for a song and its usage rights are not clear, it is recommended to reach out to its artist for permission. Most artists have contact methods labeled on their music release platforms, personal websites, and social media.
This may feel like a large hurdle, but we've seen mappers have pretty high success and receive artists' approval just by taking the courage to ask before using content without permission. It may help to mention that osu! is a free no-ad game, and you can link them to our licensing page to give them a better idea of how content is consumed.
While music is frequently copyright-restricted, sound effects used for custom hitsounds are more often freely available. For example, the Philharmonia orchestra provides free instrument sound samples and Freesound permits sound sample searches filtered by usage rights.
As with music, we recommend seeking out an artist's input on usage terms and to ask for permission when those terms are unclear. For example, if you're interested in using a background from an artist on pixiv, locate their profile for usage terms or send them a message asking for permission.
Many image-hosting websites have search filters for Creative Commons Licensing or non-commercial use. Some websites that mappers have frequently used to find their copyright-free backgrounds include:
If you've received a musician's permission to use their song, their album artwork or any other official artwork for the artist is also likely viable for use as a background/storyboard. Again however, ask for permission if this is not clear.
When submitting a beatmap, you should have permission for gameplay-related assets such as guest difficulties or charts from other rhythm games.
We do not condone submissions featuring gameplay (hit objects) matching those of other games, as this is not respectful to the rhythm game community.
While it can sometimes be difficult to reach out to audio/visual asset creators, mappers are often open to others uploading and crediting their difficulties! Note that plagiarism of gameplay content is also unacceptable, so any difficulties not created solely by you should be labeled accordingly.