Monday, April 10, 2006
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Can I Sell Recordings Of My Band?
The information found below was used with permission from the MENC website on U.S. Copyright Law: A Guide For Music Educators. The site contains helpful, clear language on what is or is not permitted as it relates to music copying, recording, or live performances.
The copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce copyrighted works in phonorecords (meaning any form of audio-only recording) – limited in the ways outlined previously. A common complication comes up when, in addition to recording music as part of the learning process, music educators may occasionally wish to record student performances and distribute copies of the recording within the community. Here, the teacher needs a license to do so, but the law somewhat simplifies the process for non-dramatic musical works. As long as the music has been distributed to the U.S. public under the authority of the copyright owner (who essentially gets the right to have the first try), any other person may obtain a compulsory license. That is, music teachers can pay a royalty, set by law, to the copyright owner. Through 12/31/03, that rate is set at 8.00 cents per selection or 1.55 cents per minute of playing time, whichever is greater.
In practice, a music teacher can get such a license by contacting The Harry Fox Agency, Inc., through the web site at www.harryfox.com. There is a button on the site for “limited licensing of 2,500 copies or less” that makes licenses easy to obtain. The process is only for those who wish to make at least 500 copies, however; teachers who want to pay for fewer copies will have to and contact the publisher of the music directly. Three primary sources for this information are:
The first recording of a work and its distribution in recorded form, as well as any recording of a dramatico-musical work such as a musical comedy, requires the consent of the copyright owner.
Editor's note: While I was teaching, we frequently recorded our band and sold recordings to the parents. Prior to the concert (or at least prior to the distribution of the recording), I contacted the music publishers and explained that we would be selling 50-100 copies of the recording. In most cases, the publishing company wrote a letter of permission without requesting any fees. In some cases, we paid a small royalty and received a mechanical license to duplicate up to a certain number of copies. Click here for a directory of music publishers. --Eric Matzat
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