Copyright Policy

The U.S. Copyright Law is designed to encourage the development of the arts and sciences by protecting the work of the creative individuals in our society; composers, authors, poets, dramatists, choreographers and others.

It is essential to the future of printed music that all uphold the Copyright Law. Composers, arrangers, publishers and dealers are losing a significant percentage of their income because of illegal photocopying. This loss of revenue ultimately means that less and less printed music is available for sale, short print runs mean higher prices for what is available, and dealers are no longer able to afford to carry large stocks of sheet music.

Copyright owners have every right to prosecute offenders under the U.S. Copyright Law. To date, there have been a notable number of court decisions against individuals, churches, colleges, and other institutions for violations of the Copyright Law--some involving substantial fines. The University expects the faculty and students of the Department of Music and Art to abide by all provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law.

What You Must NOT Do

The following are expressly prohibited:

  • Copying to avoid purchase
  • Copying music for any kind of performance (note emergency exception below)
  • Copying without including copyright notice
  • Copying to create anthologies or compilations
  • Reproducing material designed to be consumable such as workbooks, standardized tests and answer sheets
  • Charging students beyond the actual cost involved in making copies as permitted

What you CAN Do

What you can do without having secured prior permission:

  • Emergency copying to replace purchased copies which for any reason are not available for an imminent performance provided purchased replacement copies shall be substituted in due course
  • For academic purposes other than performance, multiple copies of excerpts of works may be made, provided that the excerpts do not comprise a part of the whole that would constitute a performable unit such as a section, movement, or aria but in no case more than 10% of the whole work. The number of copies shall not exceed one copy per pupil.
  • Printed copies that have been purchased may be edited OR simplified provided that the fundamental character of the work is not distorted or the lyrics, if any, altered or lyrics added if none exist.
  • A single copy of recordings of performance by students may be made for evaluation or rehearsal purposes and may be retained by the educational institution or individual teacher.
  • A single copy of a sound recording (such as a tape, disc or cassette) of copyrighted music may be made from sound recordings owned by an educational institution or an individual teacher for the purpose of constructing aural exercises or examinations and may be retained by the educational institution or individual teacher. (This pertains only to the copyright of the music itself and not to any copyright that may exist in the sound recording.)

Penalties for Infringement

The remedies provided by the law to a copyright owner mean that anyone found making illegal copies, or otherwise infringing, could face:

  • Statutory damages of from $750 to $30,000 and, if the court finds willfulness, up to $150,000; and
  • If willful infringement for commercial advantage and private financial gain is proved, fines of up to $250,000 and/or five years' imprisonment, or both.

(as of March 1, 1989)

Out-of-Print Music

Sometimes, music may be erroneously reported to be out-of-print. If you are in doubt and it is vital that you obtain the music, write directly to the publisher. Only the publisher or copyright owner has the right to confirm that a title is out-of-print. If a title is out of print, many publishers will arrange for you to obtain a copy.

The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Copyrights

Why Can't I Copy Anything I Want?
It's against the law, other than in very specific circumstances, to make unauthorized copies of copyrighted materials.

What If I Am Faced With A Special Situation?
If you want to include copyrighted lyrics in a song sheet--arrange a copyrighted song for four baritones and kazoo--or make any special use of copyrighted music which the publisher cannot supply in regular published form, the magic word is...ASK. You may or may not receive permission, but when you use someone else's property, you must have the property owner's permission.

What If There's Not Time To Ask?
That makes no difference. Think of copyrighted music as a piece of property, and you'll be on the right track. Plan ahead.

What About Photocopies That Are Now In Our Church/School/Library?
Destroy any unauthorized photocopies immediately. Replace them with legal editions.

Can I Make Copies of Copyrighted Music First and Then Ask Permission?
No. Permission must be secured before any duplication.

What If I Can't Find The Owner Of A Copyrighted Song? Can I Go Ahead And Copy It Without Permission?
No. You must have the permission of the copyright owner. Check the copyright notice on the work, and/or check with the publisher of the collection in which the work appears. Once you have this information, write to the copyright owner.

As A Soloist, Is It Permissible For Me To Make A Photocopy Of A Copyrighted Work For My Accompanist?
No. Permission for duplication, for any purpose whatsoever, must be secured from the copyright owner.

Is It Permissible To Print Words Only On A One-Time Basis, Such As In A Concert Program?
No. Permission must be secured before any duplication. Using "just the words" makes no difference.

But What About Items That Are Out Of Print?
Most publishers are agreeable, under special circumstances, to allow reproducing out-of-print items, but again, permission must be secured from the copyright owner before any duplication.

Can I Make A Transparency of A Copyrighted Song for Use by Overhead Projector?
No. The making of a transparency is duplication, and permission must be secured from the copyright owner.

Can I Make A Record Or Tape Using A Prerecorded Instrumental Accompaniment Track?
Two permissions are necessary here. One is from the copyright owner of the selection to be recorded, and the second is from the producer/manufacturer of the original record.

Can I Make A Band Arrangement of A Copyrighted Piano Solo? Can I Make A Flute Arrangement of A Copyrighted Work for Clarinet?
No. Making any arrangement is duplication, and permission must be obtained from the copyright owner.

Remember, any use of a copyrighted work for any purpose--for church, for school, for a non-profit organization--to be sold, to be rented--"just for our church"--words only--"we're not selling copies"-- emergency use--failure to locate the owner--or any other reason or justification requires permission BEFORE any duplication or copies can be made.

For additional information or clarification, visit the Music Publishers' Association Copyright Resource Center.

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