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Copyright Law

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Copyright Law

What is Fair Use?

Fair Use is an exception in the copyright law that allows small portions of a work to be used without permission for nonprofit, news, educational, or parody purposes. The doctrine is “murky” and often misunderstood.

To fall under fair use, only a small portion of the work may be used and the use must not affect the value or marketability of the work. Selling concert recordings or photocopying sheet music without permission would not fall under fair use.

Check out the following links for more information on Fair Use.

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What is Public Domain?
If a song’s music and lyrics were published before 1924 the song is in the Public Domain and does not require licensing (permission from the copyright owner) for any use. However, even Public Domain songs need to be licensed if you are playing from a copyrighted sheet music arrangement.
There is a lot of confusion over what is and is not in the Public Domain (free to use without permission). It is very important that you do the proper research to know – not guess – the Public Domain status of the song.
Check out the Public Domain challenge below to see what we’re talking about. Did you score 100% on the first try? If not, consider getting help to determine the Public Domain status of your song. Not sure of the Public Domain status of your song? Let us do free copyright research for you. If the song is Public Domain, we will confirm this. If not, we will help you clear the permission you need.
Take the Public Domain Challenge
What is copyright?
How to copyright your music

To gain all of the protections of the copyright law, you need to copyright your music. Luckily, this is really easy to do. In fact, music is automatically copyrighted the moment you create it in a tangible medium…

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Compulsory mechanical licensing law
Public domain
Christmas songs in the public domain
Fair use
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