Copyright for Music
Copyright is the exclusive right to reproduce, publish, and
sell the matter and form of a literary, musical or artistic work.
What Can I Copy?
You may make emergency copies of music for an immediate performance, provided replacement copies have been ordered. You may copy excerpts (not to exceed 10% of a work) provided they do not constitute a performable unit, and provided you make no more than one copy per student. You may make a single recording of a copyrighted performance by students for evaluation purposes: it may be retained, but copies of it may not be made.
I have an old record. May I copy it to cassette and use that instead?
For personal use, yes. For school, if the format of the record is obsolete (78 rpm, for example) and no other version is available, you may transfer the recording to a usable format. If the format is still available (33 1/3 rpm or 45 rpm) the transfer would require permission of the copyright holder. An exception would allow a teacher to make a single copy for the purpose of auditory exercises or examinations. The single copy made for such use may be retained by the teacher.
My students are preparing a presentation for class and want to use parts of popular songs. Is this permissible?
If the presentation is created with multimedia software, the students may use up to 30 seconds for a popular song. If the presentation is anything other than multimedia, such use falls into a gray area. Use by students is permitted if the students instigate the performance themselves (i.e., the students must decide on their own to use a specific song: the teacher may determine the suitability of the material, but may not tell the students to use a specific song.) The music students use should be played form legitimately purchased or borrowed recordings, or recorded off the air.
I found the parts for a musical. Can we stage the musical for the community to earn money?
Putting on a public performance of dramatic music (musicals, operettas and operas) always requires a license if the work is still protected by copyright. You could still use the music in class in the normal way for sheet music, however.
This brochure was reprinted from Copyright for Schools: A Practical Guide, 5th edition,
by Carol Simpson, Linworth Publishing, copyright 2010.