Music Copyrights- Do’s & Don’ts

November 1st, 2019


**The following  information is a service of Alfred Music**


Copyright Do’s & Don’ts

  • Do view Score&Sound on YouTube or sample pages online to review and select music.
  • Do arrange songs in the public domain (most folks songs, carols, hymns, and spirituals) for your ensemble.
  • Do make emergency copies if a performance in imminent, provided a replacement is purchased within a reasonable time.
  • Do make copies form classroom resources that are clearly labeled as reproducible.
  • Do copy short music excerpts (no more than 10% of an entire work) to use for academic purposes.
  • Do the right thing-support the arts by legally purchasing music.
  • Don’t download and copy sample pages to avoid purchasing music.
  • Don’t create your own arrangements of copyrighted material without prior written permission from the copyright holder.
  • Don’t make “practice” copies for students, thus allowing the original to remain in your library.
  • Don’t share reproducible materials from school to school- one is required per building/organization.
  • Don’t post copyrighted materials or recordings online. Remember a digital copy is still a copy.
  • Don’t set a bad example by using illegal copies or copyrighted material from the Internet.

Copyright infringement can result in both civil and criminal action. The information provided here is not intended as legal advice.


Navigating Copyright

As musicians and educators, it is so important that we support others in the arts by respecting their work, and that we teach our students to do so. Copyright allows the artist the right to control their creation-their intellectual property- and to benefit from its use. This certainly encourages creators and inventors to develop new ideas, publications, and products-a benefit to the public.

Sometimes the “rules” can be difficult to understand. It can be challenging to sort out rumors from the facts. Part of it stems from the fact that copyright law can have gray areas much like tax law. Another part of it can be that the legal language appears daunting.

This flyer and an Alfred Music publication, Copyright Handbook for Music Educators and Directors, help bridge the gap between fact and rumor as well as, where possible, offer guidelines to the “rules”. Neither intends to provide legal advice. They are simply resources for you to acquire more information concerning U.S. copyright law. The brief format of both will allow you to learn more about copyright in a fairly short amount of time.

If you are ever uncertain, consult an attorney who specializes in intellectual property.

Copyright has had a profound and positive impact on culture in the United States. We hope you will join us in this effort!


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