Students like to use music with their multimedia projects. We all use music as a means of expression and it seems reasonable to use music to add to the message of our projects. It is very easy to get carried away and forget that music is protected by copyright. You can use short segments of music in off-line projects, but really nothing is allowed for material you might put online.
If you happen to have a .Mac account, there is a nice solution. Apple makes a large number of “free play” MP3s available. I would call this “mood music.” Not mood music as in elevator music, but music generated to reflect different feelings or situations. The music is provided in different lengths – 15 seconds, 60 seconds, etc. Segments like this are perfect for backing iMovie clips.
.Mac accounts have been controversial. Apple had an initial online service available for free, but then added features and expected participants to pay $100 per year (actually you were probably able to get the first year for $50 if you got in immediately). I won’t defend the pricing, but some fee or some fee for the “nice features” is warranted.
Anyway, to find the music, open the software folder, then the extras folders, and you should find a folder labelled “freeplay music.” The music segments are named to reflect the intended mood. In world music, I found “Ayer’s Rock” complete with digeredoo (Uluru as the preference in Australia). Drag what you want to try to your hard drive. To add to an iMovie, all you need to do is “Import” at the play head and the music will be added to its own track.
There are similar approaches. We like a product called SmartSound. You get theme music with SmartSound, but you also have the ability to isolate and rearrange segments from each theme to kind of create your own music.