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Copyright: Photocopying musical scores

Copyright legislation and licences relating to academic practice.

Photocopying musical scores

Musical scores are not covered by the CLA (Copyright Licencing Agency) photocopying licence and are therefore classed as artistic works within the remit of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   

Artistic works are subject to copyright for the lifetime of the composer and for 70 years from the year of the composers death.   In addition the typography of the music score is also subject to copyright, for a period of 25 years from the date first published.  For example, a Beethoven Symphony will be out of copyright as an artistic work because Beethoven died in 1827.   However, if the musical score has been republished in an original format within the last 25 years the typographical arrangement will still be in copyright.

Fair dealing is a defence for copying and in this sense “fair” would be judged by a court of law.  When copying musical scores staff and students should consider whether or not the amount of material they wish to copy could be considered to prejudice the interests of the rights holder.

To ensure fair dealing staff and students are advised to follow the Code of Fair Practice created by the UK Music Publishers Association, which states:

“Bona fide students or teachers, whether they are in an educational establishment or not, may without application to the copyright owner make copies of short excerpts of musical works provided that they are for study only (not performance).  Copying whole movements or whole works is expressly forbidden under this permission”.
Code of Fair Practice, Music Publishers Association, 1992.

CC License