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

  • February 12, 2016

    Today's Headlines

    HEADLINES: Today's Top Higher Education News

    The Washington Post reports that President Obama is nominating John B. King Jr. to officially lead the Department of Education, where he has served as acting secretary since the start of the year. In other news, The Chronicle of Higher Education...

  • Articulating Global Strategy

    February 12, 2016

    Coworkers

    13th Cohort of Internationalization Laboratory Shares Steps Forward

    ​Members of the 13th Cohort of ACE’s Internationalization Laboratory joined in a robust discussion last Monday in Washington during its mid-year seminar. The participants, who represent 13 institutions of various types and sizes, are midway through...

  • Innovative Practices

    February 12, 2016

    graduates

    Register Now for ACE Convening on Alternative Education

    ​Two white papers examining how alternative educational approaches can better meet the needs of students and employers will be unveiled at a Feb. 25 convening at ACE’s offices in Washington, DC.

  • Leading Internationalization

    February 12, 2016

    Students walking around campus

    Survey to Map Internationalization on U.S. Campuses Launches

    ​CIGE launched the fourth edition of its Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses survey to assess the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyze progress and trends over time and identify future...

  • Supporting Military-Connected Students

    February 10, 2016

    Student in the military

    ACE to Host Second Academic Advising Summit for Service Members and Veterans

    ACE’s second Service Member and Veteran Academic Advising Summit, to be held April 14-15 in Arlington, VA, will discuss mobilizing a national campaign to expand partnerships between educators, employers and other key stakeholders aimed at aiding in...

 

 Related Content