Copyright and Your Ensembles

Can an ensemble legally sell videotapes of its concerts?  “A single copy of a videotaped performance of your ensemble can be made to keep on file for reference or review. If you want to make multiple copies and distribute them, either with or without charge, you will need the permission of the copyright owners for each piece of music performed on the videotape. You will also need permission from parents to have their children videotaped,” per the MENC website at

How can an ensemble teacher stay on the right side of the law in matters of copyright? Check out the NAfME Copyright Center.

If you want to do limited distribution of a cover version of a song, get a mechanical license through the Songfile link at the Copyright Center.

The section Understanding Copyright Law helps you learn what’s legal and what’s not.
Creativity in the Classroom is a program to encourage students to respect intellectual property and develop awareness of the value of their creative work in a variety of subject areas.

Links to the Music Publishers Association, the Harry Fox Agency, BMI, and ASCAP are found here, along with a link to a site that can help answer your questions about public domain songs.

According to Michael Blakeslee, MENC’s Deputy Executive Director, “Copyright law can sometimes be confusing. MENC doesn’t presume to give legal advice, and you’d be wise to contact your district legal counsel if you have any doubts, but the Copyright Center offers some general guidelines that can get you started.”

See also: Got Permission to Upload that Video? on the NAfME website in the General Music Archives.

–Ella Wilcox, May 4, 2010, © National Association for Music Education (