Copyright: Frequently Asked Questions

COPYRIGHT:  Frequently Asked Questions

 Must a student purchase a second piece of music for his or her accompanist?

Accompanists must have original music to play from. Copying a single page to alleviate a difficult page turn can be justified, but copying the entire work is copyright infringement.

 During juries and/or recitals, if a student has the original and the faculty wants to follow along with the music for assessment and grading purposes, may copies be made?

Copying may be permissible, but ONLY if permission is granted by the copyright holders. Write to the publisher and explain your situation. Make sure to get the permission in writing. And remember, unauthorized photocopies are copyright infringements.  (If permission is not granted, perhaps students could borrow copies among their peers, from their teachers, or at a music library.)

 I’m doing research on a topic related to the effects of music on children and want to use a particular CD. Do I need to purchase a CD for each participant, or can I simply purchase one and make copies?

Copyright for music and recordings is no different than it is for books or plays. Buying only one CD and making copies is a copyright infringement. To use a CD for research purposes, contact the copyright holders to receive permission. More information can be obtained from the Music Publishers Association.

 Can our band legally sell videotaped copies 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 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.

 Is a public school district allowed to use recorded music of one of their school ensembles in a publication? The publication may be a TV advertisement or a CD for a business in the area. The music would be purchased according to copyright. 

The school must license the music properly with a synchronization license and a mechanical license. Mechanical licenses are available from the Harry Fox Agency. For synchronization licenses, contact the publisher directly (publisher information is available on the ASCAPBMI, and SESAC sites). If another business is used, make sure that business is responsible for all licensing. Also, be sure to check local law regulations. (For more information, read “Mechanical Licensing & You: What You Need to Know Before Recording Your School’s Performances.”)

 For more information, visit MEA Managers Webinar on Copyright.