Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

 Email  Share  Print

I want to... Play music in a lecture, studio, lab, rehearsal, or concert

December 30, 1899

 

​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 here:

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

  • September 16, 2014

    HEADLINES: Today's Top Higher Education News

    In this morning’s headlines, The Arizona Republic, among other papers, covers a new effort by 11 universities to bolster success for low-income students. The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration will launch an effort to encourage...

  • Law and the Courts

    September 15, 2014

    ACE Releases Memo on Campus Political Campaign Activities

    With the 2014 midterm elections in full swing, the ACE has reissued its memo on Political Campaign-Related Activities of and at Colleges and Universitiees.

  • Campus Internationalization

    September 15, 2014

    flags

    New ACE Paper Explores Challenges to HBCUs in Internationalization

    The paper is the culmination of a three-year research project that was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education, where seven HBCUs worked with ACE to develop campus-wide internationalization strategies.

  • Institutional Effectiveness

    September 10, 2014

    Class of 2014-15 ACE Fellows Begins With Weeklong Retreat in Chicago

    The 2014-15 Class of ACE Fellows explored everything from their personal leadership journey to marketing to financial management and more in the program’s five-day opening retreat late in August.

  • Institutional Capacity

    September 10, 2014

    Registration Open for ACE's 97th Annual Meeting

    Registration is now open for ACE’s 97th Annual Meeting, scheduled for March 14-17, 2015, in Washington, DC. Confirmed speakers thus far include Michael Beschloss and Paul Krugman.

 

 Related Content