Smitty’s MusEd Corner

Music Education and Music Technology in a college student’s life.

Questions on Copyright

Are ensembles allowed to film themselves and freely distribute the video to those within the ensemble either “for cost” or at “no cost”?


Is it legal to tape or record a band concert?  Well, I have been to many honors bands throughout my high school and collegiate career.  For every concert I have attended, I have purchased a CDorchestra-1.jpg of our live performance.  Even the TV Productions class in high schools video tape concerts, plays and musicals then broadcasted them onto their local broadcasting station.  Therefore I would assume it is legal: but is it really?  Let’s look into this using some insightful resources found at Prof. P’s sight.

According to MENC (The National Association for Music Education), you are allowed to make recordings.  The catch [and there always is a catch] is you must:     1) only use it for review 2) if used fordistributing [with our without profit] you must have the permission of the copyright owners for each piece of music performed on the videotape 3) as well as the parent’s permission to videotape the student.

There are some simple rules one must follow when dealing with this matter.  Bands of
have some helpful reminders.  Simple rule #2 states: “if you want to duplicate, arrange, or record, a published work, or otherwise alter its fundamental character, you need to get permission from the publisher. Along with this rule goes the following: DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING; WHEN IN DOUBT ABOUT THE RIGHTS TO A WORK, ASK!”
According to Copyright law,If you use a copyrighted work without authorization, the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement action against you.”  In other words, GET PERMISSION.  This is the law of our land on Copyright; this is a pretty serious offense.  If you do not obtain proper authorization for publications such as a video there can be some consequences to be paid.  James Frankel has taught Music and Technology for over 14 years and has a sight dedicated to Copyright.   As I read Dr. Frankel’s website I could not help but feel guilty.  Over the past nine going on ten years [wow], I have had recordings of honors bands and marching band festivals I have partaken.  I never gave it one thought if what I am listening to or watching is illegal.             

When Prof. P had started discussing copyright laws, my perspective of what I can and can’t do as an educator just boggles my mind.  Fair use and education laws just appall me.  On one hand you can make a copy of something for class, but on the other hand you cannot make twelve extra copies of music for your flutes because every band director’s nightmare is that first day of elementary band and you face 79 flutes.  The best way: just buy another score (it is cheaper). 


March 23, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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