ESSA and Copyright

The music community most closely associates the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, or ESSA, as the first piece of federal legislation to enumerate music as part of a “Well-Rounded Education.”  However, tucked within the immense K-12 education law are minor statutes that prescribe a goal to educate students and parents about “the harms of copyright piracy.”

Photo: Creativeye99 / iStockPhoto

Two sections of ESSA, specifically call out this need –

Title I, Section 1010, “Parent and Family Engagement”

Section 1010 of Title I specifically identifies the need for parents to understand and be engaged with technology, including an understanding about copyright piracy.

In general, Title I of ESSA places a large emphasis on the need to involve parents, family members, and the community with schools.  As school districts begin revise their Title I plans, they are encouraged by Congress, via ESSA, to place parental and community involvement strategies at the center of their Title I plans. And music, of course, as part of a well-rounded education, can better connect schools with the community.  As you think about ways to connect with your families and community through concerts and other performance opportunities, music educators can use these opportunities to help parents, students, and other educators understand U.S. copyright compliance and navigating our multi-mediated world. And Title I funds can help support that work.

Title II, Section 2103, “Local Uses of Funds”

Title II, Part A of ESSA can be used in part to support the professional development of educators teaching in well-rounded subjects, including music. 

As an area of interest, Section 2103 of Title II includes the “effective integration of technology into curricula and instruction” to educate about the harms of copyright piracy.  As school districts develop their Title II professional development plans, music educators have an opportunity to provide input, which may include how technology can be an effective tool in educating teachers and students about the harms of copyright piracy.

Copyright Resources

Unlike most educators, music educators must face copyright compliance frequently throughout their career. Although the thought of copyright can be intimidating and a complex subject, NAfME has a multitude of resources that can help you better understand U.S. copyright law.  A number of these resources may not only be beneficial to you, but may be used to fulfill the areas noted above from the Every Student Succeeds Act.

My Classroom: Copyright

Located under the “My Classroom” section of the NAfME website, there are numerous resources covering the basics of copyright, including:

  • Licensing Information
  • Performance Rights for NAfME Members
  • Contact Information to Publishing Organizations
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Teaching Your Students Copyright
  • Posting Your Music Performance Online

The Basics of Copyright for Music Educators – A Presentation by NAfME

Members of NAfME’s Public Policy and Advocacy staff often provide distance learning and in-person orientation opportunities for music educators.  This includes a session on the basics of copyright for music educators.  You can access the slides to our copyright presentation here.

If you are interested in having a member of our Public Policy staff present about copyright compliance at your state MEA conference or school district professional development training, please contact us at

NAfME Academy

NAfME Academy is a brand new, state-of-the-art online learning platform for music educators. The Academy allows educators to access the relevant professional development they need to further enhance their teaching and serve the needs of students through dynamic and effective materials and learning opportunities.  This includes several webinars on copyright compliance for music educators.


NAfME recently partnered with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to produce an extensive copyright compliance course that is specific for music educators.  You can access the course on NFHS’ Learning Center – – followed with searching the term, “copyright.”

Note: NAfME does not presume to give legal advice, including the content of this blog.  Information provided is strictly for informational purposes and based only on our experience with U.S. copyright compliance. If you have technical questions about possible legalities of a copyright, speak to your school’s principal or district’s music supervisor for advice on legal counsel, or contact Harry Fox Agency or the Music Publishers’ Association.

Ronny Lau, Public Policy Advisor, October 10, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (