Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

 Email  Share  Print

I want to... Play live music—as a soloist or as part of an ensemble—that fulfills an educational purpose

December 30, 1899

 

If you would like to play live music—as a soloist or as part of an ensemble—that fulfills an educational purpose on your campus, please keep the following things in mind.

License required

Possibly none, but only if use qualifies as a fair use or fits within another exemption under the law.

 
 
Background

Under Section 110 of the Copyright Act, no permission is needed to play (or in legal parlance, "perform") copyrighted music as part of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit institution in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction. In some cases, an exemption also applies for performing music (and other copyrighted works) as part of a "transmission" of a live classroom session. That exemption is limited, however, and requires careful analysis of the facts and circumstances involved.

Even where an exemption does not apply under Section 110 of the Copyright Act, it may be possible to proceed under the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act. Found in§ 107 of the Act, fair use involves the use of a copyrighted work for such purposes as teaching, research, reporting, or criticism, and outlines four factors that should be used in determining whether a use falls under this doctrine.

The § 107 factors are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Determining whether or not a particular use of music is a fair use can be difficult. As the U.S. Copyright Office has explained: "The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission."

A number of colleges and universities have established online tools to aid in making a fair use analysis. We have listed some of those sites below:

Action

Consult resources, including university counsel as appropriate, to determine whether performance of a musical work adheres to the fair use provisions or the exemptions offered under Section 110 of the Copyright Act.

Rates

Potentially none.

 

Other ACE News

  • Budget and Appropriations

    June 26, 2017

    Hearing

    NIH Director Testifies on Budget Request for FY 2018

    National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins testified June 22 before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on his agency’s FY 2018 budget, which the White House is...

  • June 26, 2017

    Today's Headlines

    HEADLINES: Today's Top Higher Education News

    The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed a limited version of President Trump’s travel ban to take effect, and will consider the case in the fall. The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that African Americans hold the top...

  • Institutional Capacity

    June 26, 2017

    Fellows

    Applications Now Being Accepted for ACE Fellows Program Class of 2018-19

    For five decades, the ACE Fellows Program has strengthened institutions in American higher education by identifying and preparing nearly 1,900 faculty, staff and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership.

  • College and University Partnerships

    June 21, 2017

    Person using mouse and laptop

    Register Now for ACE Webinar on the Power of Apprenticeship Programs

    A free July 13 ACE webinar will explore the potential of work-based earn-and-learn models that offer pathways to postsecondary credentials and careers with family-sustaining wages.

  • Articulating Global Strategy

    June 21, 2017

    School hallway

    2017-19 ACE Internationalization Lab Offers Customized Guidance and Insight

    Colleges and universities ready to transform their campuses’ approaches to providing global education have a week left to apply for the 15th cohort of ACE’s Internationalization Laboratory. The application deadline is June 30.

 

 Related Content