Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Thursday, 10 September 2015

You mean I CAN copy it? (Understanding Music Copyright)

To be honest, copyright legislation is a rather negative topic! If something's 'in copyright', you can't copy it.  However, if something is very old, or if you have the right permissions, or if you're copying a tiny extract for study purposes, then you may be able to copy it, guilt-free.  

So, how do you find out what's allowed?

  1. The IAML(UK and Ireland) website has a full page devoted to copyright, with lots of useful links, particularly relating to music.  (The International Association of Music Libraries is our professional association; a working group is currently drawing up a new helpful advice document, but you can certainly trust the links that are already on this website.)
  2. Another UK library organisation, CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) has its own page about copyright in general.
  3. Try the UK Copyright Service website.
  4. Conservatoires and Universities often have their own web-pages on copyright legislation, sometimes on a Virtual Learning Network that only their own staff and students can access.  (We have such a page on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's VLN.)  We also have someone on the staff with particular responsibilities for providing copyright advice. This is quite common.
  5. The British Academy for the Human and Social Sciences has a very extensive copyright advice page, though you might be put off by its length!  
The bottom line is - if in doubt, ask! Whether you ask your library staff or one of the agencies on the IAML list, someone will be happy to help you work out where you stand.

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