If you wish to use music in a multimedia project or web page, or
play music (either live or recorded) at a public event or in the
classroom, you need to determine if you need a license and if so,
Music may have multiple copyrights:
- Recording by an artist
Using music may involve many licenses:
Rights in music
There are separate copyrights for
- Musical compositions (written music and lyrics)
- Recordings of performances of compositions (vocal or instrumental)
Standard industry practice is that songwriters retain the rights
to their compositions (usually the composer and lyricist jointly
hold the rights), while recording studios generally own the rights
for the recordings performed by various artists.
Associations handle much of music licensing, and many rights may
be obtained through blanket and compulsory licensing schemes. If
you are seeking rights to music that is not licensed through established
channels, clearing rights could involve separate negotiations with
song writers, heirs, agents, publishers, recording studios and/or
performing rights agencies.
Using music at UW
In the classroom
A specific exemption within the law allows for the performance
of music by either live or recorded means in the course of face-to-face
teaching activities in a classroom at non-profit educational institutions.
No additional permissions are required for this use.
For use of sheet music for academic study, instruction and emergency
copying for imminent performance, the guidelines for educational
uses of music may be helpful.
Performing or playing music at events
Performing music for any group beyond the normal family circle
generally requires a public performance license. Most public performance
rights are administered through performing rights associations
such as American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
(ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the Society of European
Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC).
Public Performing License
UW has obtained public performance licenses with each of these agencies
and faculty, students, and staff may play or perform music covered
by these licenses at UW events without obtaining separate performance
To determine if your musical selections and performance are covered
by the licenses, you'll need to see if one of the agencies manages
the rights for your selections by checking the online catalogs
for BMI, ASCAP,
Once you determine that your music is covered by one of these
agencies, check the licenses to see if your use is covered.
TV Broadcast Not Covered
The public performance licenses do not include digital uses or
televised broadcasts. If you intend to use music for these or
other purposes not covered the licenses, or if you wish to use
music that is not in the catalogs of these agencies, you may need
to seek permission to use the work by contacting the composer
or recording studio.
Broadcasting music via radio, television or internet
Broadcasting music via UW radio stations is covered by UW's public
performance licenses for all works in covered by the licenses.
Broadcasting music in connection with UWTV or other televised programs,
and using music on web pages is not covered UW's public performance
licenses and separate permission may be required.
In addition to a performance rights license, licenses may be required
to synchronize music with images and broadcast these works.
Using music in audio-visual productions
Movie, Slide Show or Video
If you intend to use music in a timed relation with a visual work
(such as a movie, slide show or video) you may need to obtain
a synchronization license from the music publisher.
Synchronization licenses are commonly known as "sync rights"
and are used extensively in the motion picture and television
industries. Depending on the use of the work, you may need both
a performance license and a synchronization license.
Sync licenses may or may not be required for multimedia applications
where music may be included in a work, but not necessarily in
a timed relation to visual works. If you intend to use music in
this manner, other licenses may be required. These licenses may
be obtained from the music publisher or through the Music Publishers
Association, which grants rights through the Harry Fox Agency,
or similar agency.
Making a recording of a published composition
Making a new recording of a musical composition exercises the copyright
owner's exclusive work to reproduce the work. Obtaining rights for
this purpose is through a mechanical license. Mechanical licenses
are part of a compulsory licensing scheme defined in the copyright
act and require a payment of royalties from sales of copies of the
A music publishing license may be required to create printed sheet
music from copyrighted compositions. This type of license may be
required if you intend to reproduce sheet music in a multimedia
or web page application.