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CCM: Resources
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Copyright Considerations: Fair Use or Infringement

TO: CCM Faculty

RE: Copyright Considerations: Fair Use or Infringement

The following guidelines may address some of your questions about permissible usage under the Copyright Law. As an educational, non-profit institution, we are allowed certain exceptions (called "fair use" exceptions) from the strict letter of the law. However, it is important to recognize that unless a use falls within the provisions of the "fair use" exception, the reproduction or performance of copyrighted material without a specific license is illegal. Not everything we do (or may want to do) is covered by the "fair use" doctrine. Penalties for infringement can be severe, depending upon the circumstances.

The minimum standards for educational fair use of copyrighted work under current copyright law are listed below. In other words, if you stay within these guidelines your use of the materials will be considered "fair."

You may make multiple copies of entire works of printed music to be used in performance IF it is:

  • an emergency situation;
  • the performance is imminent;
  • you have purchased copies which suddenly are unavailable, (lost, stolen, destroyed?); and
    • you have no time to replace the purchased copies; but
    • you will replace the photocopies with regular (purchased) copies in "due course", i.e. before the next emergency.

NOTE: Copying music for rehearsal or performance is illegal unless it is an emergency. Copying music on a regular basis in disregard of infringement notices would, most likely, constitute "willful" violation of the law and carry penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.
You may make multiple copies of excerpts of works for classroom use IF:

  • you do not exceed one copy per student;

the excerpt does not comprise the entirety of a performance unit, i.e. a section or movement, but in no case is it more than 10% of the entire work.

You may edit or simplify printed copies which have been purchased 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 audio/video recordings of performances by students may be made for evaluation or rehearsal purposes and may be retained by the educational institution or individual teacher.

This exception also carries with it certain "caveats" for dramatic performances and, in some cases, may not be applicable for individual productions.

Teachers or students may perform works in the course of face-to-face teaching activities, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction. This privilege does not extend to outside artists invited to perform before the class although it would cover guest "lecturers."

Unique and creative situations arise constantly in the performing arts. If you ever have questions about an activity outside the normal course of events which would have copyright implications, please feel free to ask Associate Dean Scott Lipscomb.