Blackwell Library


Downloading Music

Copyright Symbol imageSharing music through peer-to-peer connections is generally illegal because it violates the copyright of the artists and producers. In the past few years the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has brought law suits against students who have knowingly or unknowingly shared music from their personal computers over a high speed network.

For Students

The University had subscribed to services that permit students to listen to music for free and to buy songs to download to iPods or other devices. Currently, there are no immediate plans to contract with another service, but others have cropped up on their own. Pandora at is free and lets users create custom channels for favorite artists or genres.

For Student Multimedia Projects

Conservative guidelines allow use of 10% (no more than 30 seconds) of music or lyrics, if the project is created for a specific course and is shown in the course and/or is incorporated in a portfolio for later personal uses (job interviews, graduate school applications)

For Faculty Multimedia Projects

Conservative, but not legally binding, guidelines allow use of 10% (no more than 30 seconds) of music or lyrics for up to two years before obtaining permission for teaching, if:

  1. the project is a teaching tool for face-to-face, online classes and directed studies,

  2. students are advised that they cannot copy presentations

  3. online sessions are limited to students enrolled in sessions

  4. online sessions use technology to prevent copying or in its absence faculty post projects for 15 days after their initial real-time or assigned use followed by access to a copy in the library or similar location for on-site use only

Although the process of securing permissions should begin immediately if the multimedia teaching tool will be used for more than two years, other uses do not have the same prescribed time limits: use in presentations at workshops and conferences and in personal portfolios (tenure reviews, job applications).

Other Instructional Uses *

Without securing permission, it is possible to make:

  1. a copy to to replace a purchased copy which for any reason is not available for an imminent performance if a purchased replacement copy will be substituted in due course.

  2. a copy of an entire performable unit (section, movement, aria, etc.) that is unavailable except in a larger work and solely for a teacher's research or preparation to teach a class.

  3. a copy of an entire performable unit (section, movement, aria, etc.) for academic purposes other than performance if the copyright owner confirms it is our of print.

  4. multiple copies of excerpts of works, provided that the excerpts do not comprise a part of the whole that would constitute a performable unit such as a section, movement, or aria, but in no case more than 10% of the whole work. The number of copies shall not exceed one copy per pupil and the copies must be made for academic purposes other than performance.

  5. a single copy of recordings of performance by students may be made for evaluation or rehearsal purposes and may be retained by the educational institution or individual teacher.

  6. a single copy of a sound recording (such as a tape, disc or cassette) of copyrighted music from sound recordings owned by an educational institution or an individual teacher for the purpose of constructing aural exercises or examinations and may be retained by the educational institution or individual teacher. (This pertains only to the copyright of the music itself and not to any copyright which may exist in the sound recording.)

  7. a transformative copy of a purchased print copy if the editing or simplifying does not distort the fundamental character of the work, the lyrics are altered or lyrics added if none exist.

Requirements for Permitted Copies Above

  1. Copying to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works.

  2. Copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and answer sheets and like material.

  3. Copying for the purpose of performance, except as in 1 above.

  4. Copying for the purpose of substituting for the purchase of music, except as in 1 to 3 above.

  5. Copying without inclusion of the copyright notice which appears on the printed copy.

*Based on the work of several groups in response to hearings on H.R. 2223 (June, 1975).

Media Services Policies regarding Music Downloads

Students should not use copyrighted materials for projects to be aired on PAC 14 or any other broadcasting medium. If students or faculty want to have music in their productions, they can either use copyright free music or purchase it from Gene Michael Production. Since Media Services is part of the Integrated Media Center which collaborates with faculty from Music, Art, and Communication Arts, original music and graphics may be available for video productions.

Multiple Copying/Format Shifting

Music is at the center of the storm nowadays. In some ways, however, today's issues are the same as when VCRs made it possible to copy broadcasts and tape duplicators enabled copying of rented or purchased videos. If it is okay to copy a broadcast for home use, why is it not okay to copy a song from a purchased CD onto a PC or other playback device?

Technology may allow us to move in that direction, but for now format shifting, such as creating an MP3 version of an audio CD, requires the permission of the copyright owner.

The Music Publishers' Association has a copyright search information resources guide to help with permissions, as well as a listing of other organizations (Music Links) through which permissions may be sought.


Performing legally obtained copies of sound recordings for instructional purposes, without requesting permission, is fine provided that the performance is

  • by instructors, guest lecturers, or students
  • in connection with face-to-face or distance education instruction
  • for an audience that is directly involved in the teaching activity
  • delivered in a classroom or place devoted to instruction (library, workshop space, etc.)

The Teach Act, which updates earlier restrictions on performing works in other than face-to-face classrooms, allows the performance or display of any work in an amount comparable to that displayed in the course of a live classroom session (in some cases, entire recordings when essential to a course, e.g., The Operas of Puccini).

Music Databases

  • Classical Music Library
  • Classical Scores Library
  • Classical Music Reference Library
  • African American Music Reference

(note: all of these are from the same publisher and carry the same copyright statement.)

You may access and use this database in any way that is consistent with U.S. Fair Use Provisions and international law, and make limited numbers of hard or electronic copies for research, education, or other non-commercial use only; for more extended use, it is necessary to obtain prior consent in writing from Alexander Street Press. Fully legal downloads of music tracks are available for a small fee.

  • NAXOS Music Library

You may access and use these materials for personal purposes. You may not modify, scan or copy or use any other method now known or to be discovered in future to reproduce, republish, duplicate, translate or distribute in any way any portion of the content or use the materials for any other purpose, or publicly perform or broadcast any of the musical excerpts or recordings included on this Website without the prior written permission of Naxos Digital Services Limited. You may not download the music and recordings of this Service at any time. Any publication, reproduction, public exhibition or further distribution of Materials provided at this Website, whether in whole or in part, is strictly and expressly prohibited.

To request permission, send an e-mail, including your name, username, e-mail and postal address and a description of the purpose of your intended use and the Materials you would like to use to

You may print any part of the material for personal purposes only, provided you also retain any copyright notice originally included with the material.

Information Resources

  1. The Music Library Association provides in-depth information on scenarios and FAQs about
    fair use, performance rights, as well as issues for composers and authors.

  2. Public Domain Music provides readily available music for downloading, copying and

  3. National Association for Music Education guide for music educators provides complete
    copyright information on performance and other issues directed to music educators.

  4. Creative Commons lists host sites to which licensed music can be posted and on which
    it can be found.

  5. provides comprehensive information about music copyright laws, educational efforts, resources for colleges, copyright FAQ, and also includes a list of legal sites.