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Canadian laws- how many pieces of music to I have to buy

I am teaching a younger kids choir and for a vairety of reasons (including their reading is very poor) i will be teaching things mostly be rote and the kids will not be reading off the sheet music ever. How many copies of the music do I have to buy. Technically I only need two (one for me and one for the accompanist) but I am guessing I have to purchase more to be legal- does anyone know how many?
on October 10, 2014 6:03am
It's not a question of legality, rather the minimum number that the retailer will allow you to buy. I dealt with Leslie Music in Oakville ON and always had to buy 5 copies of whatever music I was preparing inspite of the fact that I only needed two, like you. With no budget it was a challenge. 
On the other hand, if you to buy only a couple of copies, their profit is so small that it hardly justifies stocking pieces that would interest you. I've had a piece in this category. It's a good, all purpose song which I taught and performed dozens of times but neither I nor the publisher will ever make any money from it because it sells only one or two copies at a time.
Good luck with your group
David S. Fawcett
on October 10, 2014 9:41am
Hello Ruth,
For a start, Canadian Copyright law has its basis in 'fairness'.
Let's assume for a moment that every piece of choral music were to be taught by rote- would that be 'fair'? If you agree that it would not be fair, then why should it be fair to do so for a particular group, in this case children? (Not so incidentally, they'll always have poor reading skills if they learn everything by rote!)
You may find useful an article that I wrote for McGill University's Schulich School of Music a while back, on the specific interpretation of Canadian copyright law as it applies to music generally. As we are not dealing with electronic reproduction, it is still applicable.
If you read through the Questions and Answers, you'll get a good idea as what you can or can not do with respect to music that bears copyright. In effect, what you propose is likely not legal in Canada, and probably not very 'fair' elsewhere. I use the term 'likely', as there is no specific reference to rote learning that I could find in the Canadian copyright act.
The fairest approach to this would be to contact the owner of the copyright (not necessarily the composer) and ask permission to teach the music by rote, also asking them if there is a fee, or if you need to purchase a certain number of scores– mentioning, of course, how many children are involved. As a composer, I have been asked this question just once (in some 50 years!) and – hoping they were learning to read music as well – I happily gave my music away to the young’uns.
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