Copyright for Music Subject Guide - University Libraries, University of Hartford
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    Copyright for Music - Subject Guide

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    Sections in this category: Learn About Copyright | The Law

    Learn About Copyright

    Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis:
    Ownership, Fair Use, and Your Rights and Responsibilities (PDF)

    Written for graduate students by Kenneth Crews. This is an update of his Copyright Law & Graduate Research. It is listed on ProQuest's page for dissertation Authors.

    Copyright in General (from Columbia University)
    Explains fundamental principles of copyright law and answers questions about fair use of existing works, managing your copyrights, negotiating publication agreements, posting materials to Web servers, and more.

    Copyright -- Music Educators (NafME)
    Copyright law explanations, licensing resources, performance rights for NAfME Members, FAQs, common issues, links, and teaching students about copyright.
    (Includes The United States Copyright Law: A Guide for Music Educators, a classroom guideline created jointly by educators and publishers. Note: this was written for primary and secondary education, not higher education. Also, the guidelines are ONLY guidelines; they are not law.)

    Moser on Music Copyright (2006)
    By David Moser. Allen Library Stacks [KF3035 M67 M67]
    Helpful starting point for understanding various aspects of music copyright. Check Status

    Music Law in the Digital Age
    By Allen Bargfrede. Allen Library Shelves [KF3035 B37 2017]
    Helpful starting point for understanding various aspects of music copyright. Check Status

    YouTube Copyright Tutorial
    Created by students and librarians at the College of William & Mary. A great introduction to copyright issues in music.

    The Law

    Copyright Law of the United States
    Complete version of the U.S. copyright law and related laws contained in title 17 of the United States Code. Physical copy available in Allen Library Reference at call number K1419.2 2011.

    United States Copyright Office at the Library of Congress
    Information about copyright from the source. Includes circulars relating to music copyright.

    Sections in this category: About Fair Use | Checklists & Tools | More Specific Discipline

    About Fair Use

    Fair Use (Brief Overview)
    A good description of the basics of fair use from the Columbia University Libraries/Information Services Copyright Advisory Office.

    ARL Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries
    Complete text (32 pages) of Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries issued by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The code identifies eight principles representing the library community's current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted material.

    Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions (2012)
    By Kenneth Crews. Mortensen Library Reference [KF2995 .C74 2012]
    This book covers many areas of copyright law and has a substantial section on Fair Use. Check Status

    Tales from the Public Domain: Bound by Law? [Online graphic novel]
    A fun graphic novel from Duke University's Center for the Study of the Public Domain that discusses copyright issues, with a focus on fair use.

    Understanding Fair Use (U. Minnesota)
    Excellent explanation of the four (and five) factors that users must consider when contemplating whether a use will be "fair." Includes comments on guidelines and best practices.

    Checklists & Tools

    Thinking Through Fair Use (U. Minnesota)
    A tool designed to help determine whether a use of copyrighted material falls under fair use.

    Fair Use Checklist (from Columbia U.)
    Intended to help you to focus on factual circumstances that are important in your evaluation of fair use, and can provide an important mechanism to document your decision-making process. See the resources above to better understand the four factors. (The authors also suggest that you consider adding the current date and notes about your project to the checklist, and keep completed checklists on file for future reference.)

    More Specific Discipline

    Dance Heritage Coalition: Copyright and Fair Use
    Concerns the use of archival materials for teaching, research, and high-quality public programming.

    Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Dance-related Materials
    "Clarifies what librarians, archivists, curators, and others working with dance-related materials currently regard as a reasonable application of the Copyright Act's fair use doctrine." Statement was endorsed by the Congress on Research in Dance, the Dance Critics Association, the Dance Films Association, the National Dance Education Organization, the Society of Dance History Scholars, the Theatre Library Association, and the Popular/American Culture Association. Edited by Libby Smigel, Peter Jaszi, and Barbara Drazin. Washington, DC: Dance Heritage Coalition, 2009.

    Sections in this category: About the Public Domain | Determining Public Domain Status | Finding Public Domain Materials

    About the Public Domain

    About Public Domain
    An introduction to what the public domain is and how to determine if a work is in the public domain.

    Center for the Study of Public Domain
    Resources, readings, and debates related to public domain. Includes the annual Public Domain Day and list of works that entered the public domain in 2019 (Excel spreadsheet, still growing).

    Theft: A History of Music (Tales from the Public Domain)
    Available as a free download, and as a book the Allen Library [K1450 A53 2017].
    Graphic novel exploring a history of musical borrowing (and related copyright history) from Plato to rap.
    By James Boyle (Duke Law School) and Jennifer Jenkins (Duke Law School, and director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain). Illustrated by Keith Aoki, Ian Akin, and Brian Garvey.
    (See also their Bound by Law? Tales from the Public Domain, K1420.5 A53 2006. Check location and status.)

    Determining Public Domain Status

    Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the U.S. [Cornell's Chart]
    An in-depth chart explaining the duration of a copyright term based on the type of work, publication status, location of publication, and year of publication. NOTE: as of October 2018, the section on pre-1972 recordings may be temporarily out of date due to recent changes in the law (as part of the Music Modernization Act (MMA)).

    Catalog of Copyright Entries
    The copyright status of a work can be determined using the Catalog of Copyright Entries to find when/if the work was registered or renewed. Records from 1978-present can be found online at Records from 1891-1978 can be found online at Using these catalogs can be difficult, so feel free to ask a librarian for assistance. The catalogs are currently located behind the circulation desk. Check Status

    The Copyright Genie
    This website asks a series of questions about a work in order to help you determine whether or not it is public domain.

    Copyright Renewal Database
    Searchable index of copyright renewal records for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963. Includes only renewal records, not original registrations, and only Class A (book) renewals received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992.

    (Works published after January 1, 1964 had their copyrights automatically renewed by statute, and works published before 1923 have generally fallen into the public domain. Renewals received by the federal Copyright Office after 1977 are searchable in their online database, but renewals received between 1950 and 1977 were distributed only in print publications. The Copyright Renewal Database brings those records together in a searchable format.)

    Out of Copyright [European Public Domain Calculators]
    Calculators attempt to "answer the question if a certain work or other subject matter vested with copyright or neighbouring [sic] rights (related rights) has fallen into the public domain in a given European country."

    Finding Public Domain Materials

    Finding Copyright-Friendly Resources for Media Projects: Music & Sound Effects
    Contains audio, image, and video materials that is available under Creative Commons licenses or in the public domain.[William and Mary University]

    Free Media for Creative Use
    Contains audio, image, and video materials that is available under Creative Commons licenses or in the public domain. (Site created by James Madison University, so one or two links may only be available to JMU users.)

    Public Domain Information Project
    Provides information and resources for identifying music in the public domain and includes an alphabetical list of songs in the public domain.

    The Public Domain: How To Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More (2014)
    By Stephen Fishman.
    Mortensen Library Reference [KF3022 .F575 2017]
    Allen Library [KF3022 .F575 P83 2014] Check Status

    Sections in this category: About Licensing/Permissions | Creative Commons | Licensing Agencies

    About Licensing/Permissions

    Asking for Permission (Columbia U.)
    Explains the process and includes sample letters for asking permission to user another's work.

    Getting Permission: Using & Licensing Copyrighted-Protected Materials Online & Off
    By Richard Stim. Allen Library Shelves [KF2995 S85 G47 2016] Check Status

    Kohn on Music Licensing, 4th edn. (2010)
    By Al and Bob Kohn. Allen Library Reference [KF3035 K64 2009] Check Status

    The Musician's Business and Legal Guide (2017)
    Edited by Mark Halloran. Allen Library Stacks [ML3790 H37 M87 2017] Check Status

    Creative Commons

    Creative Commons License
    A Creative Commons license helps you dictate how your intellectual property may be used, and allows others to specify how you may use their content.

    Licensing Agencies

    Music Performance Licenses
    Explains what the different licensing and/or performing arts organizations basic music do. These include ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Note that this pertains to the performance of copyrighted music, rather than copying or distribution. [From Brown University.]

    ASCAP is one of the two largest performing rights organizations in the US. This website provides information and resources dealing with performing rights and licensing fees.

    BMI is one of the two largest performing rights organizations in the US. This website provides information and resources dealing with performing rights and licensing fees.

    A smaller performing rights organization, but still representing many big-name musicians.

    Sound Exchange
    A performing rights organization that manages the rights for streaming audio, including satellite radio, internet radio, and more.

    Harry Fox Agency
    The Harry Fox Agency handles mechanical and digital licenses. This should be your starting point if you are looking to secure the rights to produce a recording.

    Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity
    By Lawrence Lessig. Mortensen Library Shelves [KF2979 .L47 2004] Check Status

    Music and Copyright (2004)
    By Simon Frith and Lee Marshall. Allen Library Stacks [K1450 M875] Check Status

    Sections in this category: Locate Copyright-Related Cases

    Locate Copyright-Related Cases

    Music Copyright Infringement Resource
    Hundreds of documents (texts, scores and audio files) associated with music copyright infringement cases in the United States from 1845 forward. Sponsored by Columbia and USC law school (and formerly UCLA).

    Copyright & Fair Use
    Contains detailed information on many aspects of copyright as well as many links to other useful sites.
    This site includes regular postings about copyright, licensing, and digital property. It educates readers on both current copyright law and changes in the law.