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Copyright in the United States of America: Photocopying legitimate copies for convenience

Dear colleagues, Thank you in advance for your help with this copyright question. I recently bought a collection of Swedish folksongs for my choir.  I purchased one copy for each singer intending for them to sing those songs from the new collection.  I just learned that some of my singers have photocopied the 3 songs we are using so they can hole-punch them and put them in concert order in their black binder with the rest of the songs for the concert.  I am not sure that this is legal; however another musician said that as long as they have the original collection with them for the concert and it is not done "to avoid purchase" then we are in the clear. I would very much appreciate your advice on this. The concert is tomorrow.
Judith Higbee
Director of Music
Church of the Saviour
Cleveland Hts., OH

That other musician is correct. You are in the clear since you purchased the original booklets.  Another alternative, say if you wanted to perform one piece from a large booklet, is that you could contact the publisher and ask permission to copy that song. They usually allow it, charging a nominal fee and requirinf publishing credit on the sheet music and in your printed program.
I'm not a specialist in this area but I heard one publisher, also a composer, say it was ok, that it would fall under the "fair use" part of the copyright law.  We do that each time we sing single selections from MESSIAH (we own scores for everyone).
You are fine. As long as the copies are used in the fashion you describe, then it is fine; however, if someone forgot their music and used the original while the copy was also used, then that is infringement.
Legally, you must ask permission from the copyright owner, as you could get fined substantially.  Copyright is exactly that - the right to copy, and that right is owned by the entity listed on the music.  
Having said that, if you were caught you probably would not get more than a slap on the wrist.  If you do indeed have a copy for each chorister, then you have obeyed the "intent" of the law if not the "letter" of the law, which is to not defraud the copyright owner by avoiding purchase of copyrighted works.  While you really are not "in the clear", I doubt you would get into trouble.
not legal.  It's not such a bad breach of copyright law, but it's illegal. The law assumes normal wear-and-tear, and if you xerox a book, thre's no wear-and-tear, hence never any replacement.
As long as you did buy the actual, real editions one-per-chorister, individuals are absolutely allowed to make photocopies for their own performance purposes.  You've bought the piece -- they just need it in a more usable form for the performance.  Technically, I believe you're supposed to shred the photocopies immediately after the performance, but that's up to you.
It has been my impression that this is ok to make copies to carry instead of an entire collection.  We have done that many times to carry one piece instead of a 100 page book. 
To be safe, it is best to destroy the photocopies after use. The idea of copyright is not to make life inconvenient for the user, but to keep the owner of the copyright safe from loss of income from piracy. So, photocopies made by the owner of a legitimate copy for temporary use, in my opinion, are OK.
The other musician you have consulted is correct - if the students have a physical (purchased) copy of the book, then photocopying a portion of it (for ease of performance) is within legal limits.  However, as far as I can recall, these copies need to be destroyed following the performance lest they find themselves in distribution. 
Yes, that is perfectly fine. Here is a great resource from MENC to learn about copyright law.
I am certainly no expert on copyright laws, but it is my understanding that you are okay to photocopy as long as you have purchased enough original copies of the collection for each singer.
Here's a good website with answers to your questions,19 NOTE: I have extracted the article and included it below
"Convenience" Copying
by Dean McIntyre (General Board of Discipleship/Worship, The United Methodist Church)
I read and enjoyed your article regarding the "fair use" provision ("Copyright: Fair Use and Church Music"). This is probably not worth mentioning, but I believe there is a case within worship or church use were copying is permissible. That case would be when use of the copied material is for the sake of convenience, not duplicating one work into many. For instance, making 100 copies of "Lift High the Cross" from The United Methodist Hymnal would be permitted for an outdoor worship service, provided that the church owns at least 100 or more of the hymnals containing that song (and would then destroy the copies or use them in a similar situation). Similarly, a congregation may want to print the copies of a hymn in the worship folder for the sake of convenience, provided again that the church already owns that many hard copies of the published work. However, it would not be acceptable for a congregation to buy one copy of The United Methodist Hymnal and make 100 copies of any of the material for use in worship.

The "convenience" provision you cite is one I've heard before. It does not exist, however, in the provisions of current copyright laws, including the fair use provisions. In fact, both examples you give would be prohibited by current law. In your two examples, there is no provision that would allow you to legally do either one without first having the permission of the copyright holder or a license that expressly allows such use. Your ownership of 100 copies of the hymnal is irrelevant to whether or not the law allows you to make up to 100 copies "for convenience" for outdoor worship or for the worship bulletin. Both examples are illegal use of copyrighted material.

Please also see:
* Copyright: Fair Use and Church Music
* Copyright and Licensing: Playing CDs in Worship
* Recording Music in Worship for Shut-Ins
* Copyright Q & A: Arranging, Transposing
* Copyright Q & A: Copying Individual Pages
* Copyright Q & A: Copies for Bell Ringers and Singers and Enlarging Music for the Vision Impaired
* Copyright Q & A: Changing the Words
* Copyright Q & A: Transcribing for Guitar Lead Sheet
* Copyright Q & A: Practical Application of the Law
* Copyright Q & A: Making Accompaniment Recordings
*  * * * 
Dean McIntyre (dmcintyre(a) is the Director of Music Resources for The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship
Copyright © 2006 The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, PO Box 340003, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Telephone: 877-899-2780, ext. 7070. Website:
This article may be freely reproduced and used with proper attribution and inclusion of the above copyright citation. It may not be altered or placed on another website.