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Music: Copyright

Music Subject Guide

Fair Use

17 U.S.C. §107: Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 [and 106A,] the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

PLEASE NOTE:  There is no law that specifies the amount of a work that may be copied. "Official" amounts are a matter of institutional policy/practice only!! 


Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors

 Measuring Fair Use:  the Four Factors

Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors

Copyright Information for Educators and Students

The Congress shall have power...To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries....

      Unites States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8

 For an excellent overview of copyright issues see Marianne Aldrich's Copyright Guide.

This page is intended to provide you with information on copyright law as it applies to educational use.

These Sections provide Exceptions to exclusive rights in copyrighted works:


Educators will find Sections 110(1)-(Face-to-Face Teaching) and 110(2) (Distance education-Teach Act) particularly informative.


Decision-making surrounding copyright issues involves an acceptance of ambiguity.  Copyright legislation often seems purposely vague (flexible?); in fact this attribute probably enhances users' rights  (these comment are merely my opinion).


Useful Resources:


Copyright for Music Librarians. Much useful information regarding music works.

Published Statements and Guidelines. From the above site, useful guidelines on the intersection of music/media access and copyright law.

Fair Use Checklist.  From Columbia University's excellent Copyright Advisory pages.  Use these!

Section 108 Spinner.  Of use in determining permission for replacement, reproduction of old, but valued, resources.

Getting Permission/Copyright Crash Course  Resources for gaining permission to use copyrighted works.  Information provided by University of Texas



Since libraries have been thrust into the center of the copyright climate, you will find many other great resources on other library sites. 

Music Librarian

Daryll Stevens's picture
Daryll Stevens
The fastest way to reach me is via the "Email Me" link above. You may also reach me at 389-6126, or 389-6560

Using Multimedia in your project?

For an educational project, see Fair use guidelines for educational multimedia.

If your use doesn't quality as educational, see Getting Permission, on the University of Texas Libraries website.



Public Domain

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States - Peter Hirtle's charts illuminate this complex situation.


When Is 1923 Going to Arrive and Other Complications of the U.S. Public Domain-Hirtle further illustrates public domain tangles.