Posting Your Musical Performance on SchoolTube: A How-To Copyright Guide
This is a working document that is currently under review by copyright and legal experts. These guidelines will help you safely and legally post your musical performance on SchoolTube, a media sharing website that is endorsed by major educational associations, including the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Because SchoolTube uses streaming technology, the videos you’ll be posting are considered “public performances” rather than “recordings.” Because of this, you’ll generally need two rights:
Reproduction Right—Uploading a video of a performance of a song to the Internet is considered a reproduction and requires a license. Contact the music publisher for a license to reproduce (sometimes called “synchronization right”).
Public Performance Right—To determine if you need a public performance license, first determine the type of musical work:
- Public Domain Works—If the work is in the public domain (generally, music published in 1922 or earlier), you don’t need a performance license. However, you should make sure that the arrangement of the public domain song you’re using is not copyrighted. See www.pdinfo.com for more information and a searchable database of public domain music.
- Copyrighted Works—If the work is not in the public domain (published after 1922), you need a public performance license from the licensing organization the writer of the music has joined (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC).SchoolTube has an ASCAP license, but if you’d like to post a performance on your school website or another site, you’ll need to make sure that site is licensed, or obtain a license for the site.To do so, visit the following sites to search for the music you’d like to use. The search will display contact information for the copyright owner/music publisher. You may need to pay a licensing fee, the cost of which will depend on the publisher.
Works published before January 1, 1978 have a copyright term that lasts 95 years from the publication date. For works published after 1978, the copyright lasts the duration of the creator’s life plus 70 years.
- “Dramatico-Musical” Works—If the song is a longer “dramatico-musical” work, such as an opera, ballet, or musical, you should license the full work from the publisher or one of several licensing agencies, such as Tams-Witmark Music Library or Rodgers & Hammerstein Library. Some publishers of shorter musicals for elementary or middle grades may offer a package that includes performance rights with the music.
- Works Performed at NAfME Events—If your musical performance is part of an NAfME event or state conference, you don’t need a license. Performances with the support of NAfME, or by state units of NAfME, are covered under a blanket license paid each year by NAfME to ASCAP and BMI for compositions licensed by those agencies.
See the article by Andrew Sparkler of ASCAP in the August 2010 issue of Teaching Music for more information.