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Copyright: Guidelines for Music

Trying to organize a lesson plan and not sure what copyright allows you to use?

Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music

Permissable Uses

  1. Emergency copying to replace purchased copies if they are not available for purchase.  These must be destroyed after a purchased copy can be purchased.
  2. For academic purposes other than performance, single or multiple copies of excerpts may be made, providing that the excerpts do not comprise the whole performance.  A section, movement, or aria are acceptable, you may only provide one copy per student.
  3. Printed copies may be edited or simplified provided that the fundamental character of the work isn't distorted or the lyrics altered.
  4. A single copy of a performance by students may be made or evalution or rehearsal purposes and may be retained by the institution or professor.
  5. A single copy of a sound recording or copyrighted music may be made from a sound recording owned by an education instituion or individual teacher for the purpose of constructing aural exercies or examinations.


  1. Copying to create or replace or substitute anthologies, compilations, or collective works.
  2. Copying or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or teaching such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and answer sheets.
  3. Copying for the purpose of performance, except A(1).
  4. Copying for the purpose of substituting the purchase of music.
  5. Copying without inclusion of the copyright notice which appears on the printed copy.


Russell, Carrie, and Dwayne K. Buttler. "Appendix B." Complete Copyright: an Everyday Guide for Librarians. Chicago: American Library Association, 2004. 192-93. Print.


Q: You borrow your friends copy of a CD and burn it to your computer when it is available for purchase in the bookstore- Is this okay according to copyright?

A: Yes, if you have the opportunity to purchase the work, than making a copy would be against copyright.


Q: One of your brass section is sick the night before your orchestra performance, you make a photocopy to give to the replacement- Is this okay?

A:  According to Permissible Uses 1, emergency copying is allowable.


Q: I am teaching piano lessons and I have 4 pupils using the same materials, can I just make copies for them?

A: No, that would be against copyright.  If you suddenly have 3 more than expected than you could make copies only on the first day.