Music and Sound in the Classroom

The Federal Court of Canada issued its decision in the litigation between Access Copyright and York University. The text of the decision is available online. UNB along with most institutions across the country are currently reviewing this decision to determine what impact it might have on our established Copyright policies and procedures.

Both published and unpublished sheet music and sound recordings are subject to copyright protection. For the purposes of class instruction, faculty can rely on the principles of fair dealing, educational exceptions, licenced resources, and material in the public domain to deliver music and sound content to their students.

Fair Dealing

According to the principles of fair dealing, instructors and faculty are free to communicate short excerpts of musical works or sound recordings via lecture presentation, handout, e-mail communication, and/or D2L.

Short Excerpt

A short excerpt means:

  • up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work)
  • an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores

Educational Exceptions

The educational exceptions to the Copyright Act enable instructors to display or perform entire copyrighted works, such as sound and radio recordings, for educational purposes to an audience consisting primarily of students.

Moreover, the educational internet use exception permits the copying or communicating of an entire work from the web (provided you identify the original source and utilize a legal copy that does not contravene digital locks or any notices prohibiting the use of the work).

Furthermore, the mash-up exception to copyright allows instructors and students to create, for non-commercial uses, new works using copyrighted content (provided the original author is identified, a legal copy of the original is utilized, and the new work does not have a significant adverse effect on the original).

Terms of Use and Legal Notices

Always check the "terms of use" and "legal notices" associated with audio works (most apparent in audio works sourced online). These terms and notices constitute a licence agreement that outlines the details of how and when a work may be used. Keep in mind that limitations set out in a licence agreement take precedence over the Fair Dealing Policy.

Digital Locks

Some copyright holders use digital locks to restrict access to copyright-protected works and/or to limit the use that can be made of such works. The Copyright Act prohibits the circumvention of digital locks to obtain access to copyright-protected works. The Fair Dealing Policy does not permit the circumvention of digital locks to obtain access to copyright-protected works. In order to access content behind a digital lock it is necessary to obtain the permission of the copyright holder.

For more information on music and sound resources for the classroom see the UNB Libraries' Guide to Music.

Public Domain and Open licences for Music

Public domain is the term used for materials that are no longer covered by copyright law. The Canadian Copyright Act limits the term of copyright to the life of the author or creator plus fifty years. After the term of copyright expires, the work becomes public domain. This means materials in the public domain may be reproduced in any form without the permission of the copyright owner.

If you are looking for copyright-free music, where you need not worry about permission or restrictions on copying, check out the following:

SOCAN and CMRRA

For non-educational uses of music and sound, or uses that exceed the parameter of fair dealing and educational exceptions, consult the licences available through The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada and The Canadian Musical Reproductions Rights Agency or contact copyright@unb.ca.

Copyright Video Tutorials

Watch our copyright video tutorials for an overview of copyrighted materials frequently used in university classrooms, including music, and learn how to utilize these materials within the limits of copyright legislation and licences.

To learn more about copyright in music and education please consult the Universities Canada Fair Dealing Guidelines for Universities to Musical Works and Sound Recordings.

FAQs

Can I play sound recordings to my students in class?

Yes. The educational exceptions in the Copyright Act permit instructors to play or perform sound recordings on the premises of an educational institution to an audience primarily made up of students. The sound recordings played in the classroom must be legally obtained copies, personal or otherwise, and must not contravene digital locks or any notices prohibiting such use.

Can I distribute copies of sheet music among my students?

Yes. According to the principles of fair dealing, instructors and faculty are free to communicate short excerpts of musical works or sound recordings via lecture presentation, handout, e-mail communication, and/or D2L.

A short excerpt means:

  • (a) up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work) ...
  • (f) an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores ...

Can I provide sound recordings to my students via Desire2Learn or other electronic means of communication?

Yes. However, materials uploaded to Desire2Learn, or shared via e-mail, must fall either within the terms of UNB Libraries licence agreements, educational exceptions, or fair dealing.

UNB Libraries strongly encourage instructors and faculty to use the Course Reserves when dealing with sound recordings and other course materials. If your use of a given sound recording exceeds the parameter of fair dealing and educational exceptions, the Course Reserves staff will assess the material, request copyright clearance or permissions, and render the material available to your students.

Can I play music at a university campus social event without obtaining a licence?

No. Unless the music has been sourced from the public domain or is governed by an open licence agreement that includes public performance as a legitimate term of use, you would need to obtain a public performance licence. For non-educational uses of music and sound, or uses that exceed the parameter of fair dealing and educational exceptions, consult the licences available through The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada and The Canadian Musical Reproductions Rights Agency or contact copyright@unb.ca.

Can I record and play to my students a radio news program or news commentary?

Yes. Radio news programs and news commentary can be played on the premises of an educational institution to an audience primarily made up of students or instructors. An instructor may also record a news program or news commentary and play to students in a classroom up to one year after the recording is made.