Music and the Fair Use Clause

Note: I am not an attorney. The following are generalizations only based on my study of copyright law and are not meant to be construed as legal advice. If you have a question, consult a competent attorney specializing in copyrights and intellectual property law.

The law allows you to make copies of -small portions- of the protected work for specified public-interest uses. These are listed as: criticism or commentary (including parody), news reporting, research, or teaching. The court looks at such things as these when determining whether an alleged violation falls under the fair use clauses:

Fair use does allow copying for educational purposes if the following conditions are met:

If you photocopied one page of a 15-page Eugenie Rocherolle piece - - one for each student in your piano pedagogy class to study in class as an example of music for intermediate-level pupils - - you'd probably be ok because: the students are not taking the paper with them. You are keeping them for the next class, whether it's this semester or next academic year). What you cannot do is copy a page and use it as a worksheet for your theory students to analyze; that makes the photocpy a "consumable."

And you can't copy the entire piece and distribute it to your private piano students for them to learn to play.

Photocopying a page or two of a multi-page work to avoid a clumsy page turn is generally considered fair use. This is because you are photocopying only one or two pages; and they are -not- consecutive - - and therefore not performable as a unit.

Note: Ownership of a copyrighted item does not confer upon you the right to make copies of the item. That right still resides with the copyright holder. What you "buy" when you purchase that music is the right to reproduce the sound version of that music on your piano.

Bottom line: Ownership does -not- equal right to copy!

See also this searchable page on Fair Use housed at Stanford University.

copyright 1996-2002, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.


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