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Copyright & You

Can Music Be Perfomed In Educational Institutions?

Is a live performance in public of a work, primarily by students of the educational institution, permissible? 

Yes, under Section 29.5 of the Copyright Act, live  performances arnot an infringement of copyright  if  done on the premises of an educational institution for educational or training purposes and not for profit, before an audience consisting primarily of students of the educational institution, instructors acting under the authority of the educational institution or any person who is directly responsible for setting a curriculum for the educational institution.

Can I play music or other sound recordings in the  classroom?

Yes, you may play music or other sound recordings in the classroom for educational or training purposes as long as it is a legal, commercial copy. and there is not a technological measure preventing you from accessing the material.

But:

   You cannot upload copyright protected music to a course management system.  

   You cannot burn copies for distribution without permission. 

If you want to use music for non-educational purposes for example, for background music at a conference or in an athletic facility, a licence must be obtainied from the copyright collective SOCAN.

Section 32.2(3) of the Copyright Act permits the  public perfomance of music in educational institutions, without permission or payment of royalties, if it is:

    "in furtherance of a religious, educational or charitable object"

The performance must take place on the premises of the institution, must be for edcuational or training purposes, must not be for profit and must take place before an audience consisting primarily of students of the institution.

The following information is reproduced directly from Copyright Matters!: Some Key Questions & Answers for Teachers, 3rd edition by Wanda Noel & Jordan Snel.   Although the information is directed to the K-12 market, it can equally be applied to postsecondary.

"The following uses of live and recorded music are permitted by the Copyright Act and therefore do not require permission and payment:

  • in school assemblies (e.g. a recording of O Canada);
  • by a student in a presentation to other students, teachers, assessors or parents (e.g. as part of a presentation during music class)
  • in demonstration activities by students, primarily for other students, teachers, assessors or parents, and for which any admission fee charged covers costs but does not make a profit: (e.g. a concert by a school choir, shows by school bands, gymnastic routines, shows by school bands);
  • during school hours for teaching/learning (e.g. music/dance/dramatic arts classes); and
  • before and after school, and during recess, if the use is for educational purposes (e.g. school radio operated by students for credit and supervised by a teacher).

The following uses of live and recorded music are not permitted by the Copyright Act and therefore require permission and payment:

  • at school dances;
  • at school sporting events;
  • while people are on hold when they telephone the school;
  • at an event where the admission fee is intended to make a profit; and
  • on school premises for no other reason than as background music (e.g. in the classroom, cafeteria, halls, over the PA system, at school events such as fairs, carnivals, sociocultural events)." (Noel, section 12).

If Permission is Required:

For the majority of circumstances,  the copyright collective, SOCAN, can provide licences to educational institutions at costs as outlined on their website.

However a copyright collective  cannot provide licences for the following uses:

  • "in a play performed live (e.g. a drama class's production of My Fair Lady).  In this case, the edcuational institution must obtain copyright authorization from a theatrical agent;
  • in performances on school premises by outside performers (e.g. invited singers, magicaiians, etc.).  In this case, obtaining copyright  authorization is the responsibility of the outside performers; and
  • in activities held in school facilities that are rented or are provided free of charge to outside groups.  In this case, obtaining copyright authorization is the responsibility of the outside group." (Noel, section 12)

 Noel, Wanda and Jordan Snel.  Copyright Matters!: Some Key Questions & Answers for Teachers.  3rd ed.  CMEC, 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. 

Can my students perform music or a play from copyrighted material on campus?  What about at an off-campus venue?

The Copyright Act permits the performance of a copyrighted material (e.g. in the classroom, a concert or a play), primarily by students, on the premises of an educational institution for educational or training purposes and not for profit. This provision may not apply to a performance at an off-campus venue that is not at an educational institution.  A SOCAN license for music performance may be obtained.

Can I use music from a peer-to-peer file (P2P)sharing network?

Based on the Federal Court’s 2004 decision related to P2P, it appears that users may not be liable for downloading or copying music for private use but individuals could be held liable for uploading or distributing copyrighted content.  If you want to play music in class or provide it to your students to listen,it is recommended that you use legal, commercial resources.

What About Music Scores?

Fair dealing permits copying of an entire single musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other musical scores.

Copying of an entire musical score that is not in a copyright-protected work containing other musical scores is NOT permitted without obtaining permission. 

Fair Dealing allows up to 10% of a musical work to be copied.  So if a book contains a number of songs or musical scores then you can copy the greater of one musical work or 10% of the book.  If the musical score is not contained in a book with other musical scores then fair dealing limits the copying to 10% of a score (which is not generally all that useful).

If you need to obtain permission, generally the music publisher is a good place to start.  At times the right to copy music is given when the music is purchased.  In these cases the music books or sheets will have a notice stating that copying is permitted and no further permission needs to be sought.

Definition of a music score (from the online Oxford English Dictionary):   a written or printed piece of concerted music, in which all the vocal and instrumental parts are noted on a series of staves one under the other. Commonly stated to be so called from the practice (not now always followed) of connecting the related staves by ‘scores’ or lines continuing the bars.

What Are Some Royalty-Free/Educational Use Sites?

The following links will take you to content that can be used royalty free. Check the terms of use for each resource, as some have restrictions (e.g. non-commercial, attribution) or terms may change without notice.

Why Would I Need A SOCAN Licence?

If you want to use music for non-educational purposes, for example, for background music at a conference or in an athletic facility, a licence must be obtained from the copyright collectives SOCAN and Re:sound.

Where Can I Find Useful Guides?

The CMEC newly revised guide for K-12 teachers, Copyright Matters! contains an excellent overview of copyright and music.  See sections 11 & 12.

SOCAN VS Re:Sound