Music is heard on campus in many different situations. Most music is legally protected by copyrights, so navigating copyright law as it impacts the varied uses of music can be a struggle for colleges and universities.
Music copyrights are not dealt with on a daily basis on most campuses. Various departments or administrators may share responsibilities for this area, and staff turnover may leave a new person in charge with little information about the steps the institution needs to take to comply with copyright requirements.
The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and ACE have issued a joint report, Use of Copyrighted Music on College and University Campuses, on how campuses might handle music copyright issues.
The report is intended as an overview and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of informed legal counsel.
Potential Music Copyright Scenarios and Responses
Below are a series potential music copyright scenarios and responses that outline some potential music copyright scenarios and responses.
What do you want to do?
- Play live music—as a soloist or as part of an ensemble—that fulfills an educational purpose
- Play music in a lecture, studio, lab, rehearsal, or concert
- Perform a play, musical, opera, or other staged work
- Play music that is not required for degrees or courses in music—live or recorded—in the student union, fitness facility, or during a sporting event, awards ceremony, skit, or student organization event or party
- Use music as part of a commercial or YouTube video
- Sell a CD of a student organization singing popular songs
- Play music over the college radio station
- Play music using a jukebox