The intent of the U.S. copyright law is to encourage the development of the arts and sciences by protecting the works of creative individuals in our society: composers, authors, poets, dramatists, choreographers, and others.

Copyright owners have every right to prosecute offenders under the U.S. copyright law. To date, there have been a 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 School of Music to abide by all provisions of the U.S. copyright law.

What You Can Do

What you can do without having secured prior permission:

  • Emergency copying to replace purchased copies that 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 percent 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; the lyrics, if any, are not altered; and no lyrics are added (if none existed).
  • A single copy of recordings of performances 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.)

What You Can't Do

The following are expressly prohibited under the U.S. copyright law:

  • 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, tests, etc.
  • Charging students beyond the actual cost involved in making copies as permitted

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.
  • Fines of up to $250,000 and/or five years' imprisonment, or both, if willful infringement for commercial advantage and private financial gain is proved.

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, contact the publisher directly. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to your most frequently asked questions about copyrights.