Explaining Copyright

If you have performed with us in the past, you know that original conductor’s scores are required for the adjudicators.  Following your performance, the scores are immediately returned to you.  As artists and educators, you should know and understand why original music is necessary at festival.

Respecting creativity is at the center of copyright law.  Music educators are obligated to follow US copyright laws, but they also have the opportunity to teach students about what intellectual property means.  Students can learn about copyright by understanding how creative people make a living and what it means when their own creative work is respected and recognized.   Kids tend to appreciate fairness, perhaps more than many adults.  Copyright doesn’t just extend to the music industry, but the broader creative community can include literature, art, legal documents, technology, and so much more!  Suggested lesson plans can be found at www.nafme.org/my-classroom/copyright/.

NAfME explains on their website at some great depth the ins and outs of copyright owner’s rights and how this impacts music educators.  (www.nafme.org/my-classroom/use-by-educators/.)

Reproducing music scores is expressly prohibited in the following circumstances:

  1. Copying to avoid purchasing.
  2. Copying music for any performance (emergency exceptions may apply)
  3. Copying without including a copyright notice
  4. Copying to create compilations
  5. Copying materials meant to be consumable – (workbooks, answer sheets, tests).

We are often asked about music that is out of print.  Copying out of print works is not permissible without a letter from the publisher.   You can find a sample form on the NAfME website that you can use to request permission to reproduce the piece for the group’s usage.  www.nafme.org/wp-content/files/2014/05/AppendixE1-pdf

Do yourself and your program a favor – take a moment to educate yourself about copyright law.  NAfME (National Association for Music Education) as well as the government site – www.copyright.gov are two places to start.   ASCAP also has extensive information on copyright.

As an educator AND a musician, you’re providing a good example by recognizing both the spirit and the letter of the law.  And teaching your students to do the same encourages them to be aware of the value of creative endeavor – their own and others.