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Photocopying music

As I understand, it is acceptable to copy music music if you own the multiple copies, but are just needing another copy for "convenience." So, for instance, would I be allowed to blow up a copy for my accompanist who has vision problems, or make a copy for myself if it is difficult to direct right out of a book. I just want to make sure I am doing things correctly.
 
While we're on the subject, what other big "no nos" are there in the world of copy rights that may be considered "okay" by many, but really are not legal? 
 
Thanks--in advance--for your thoughts!! 
on January 5, 2016 4:02am
The law may be different where you are; based on the law here (which I would expect to be similar), neither of the examples you gave would be technically legal. The main mechanical rights agency here have put out advice that they regard a blown-up for vision impaired performers to be fair dealing  - I think you could put an argument for fair dealing in your second examples, but it's likely to be contested. Standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.
The basic rule is don't photocopy anything without authorisation from the copyright owner.
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 5, 2016 4:08am
No, this is not acceptable. You must get permission. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 6, 2016 8:57am
There are reallly two different considerations regarding copyright gray areas: legal ones and ethical ones.
 
Ethically, the intent of copyright law is make sure composers (and other creators) are fairly compensated for their work. Accordingly, the ethical yardstick I use is "Am I avoiding purchase?" Obviously, if you buy one copy of a piece and make copies for your singers, you're trying to avoid purchase and thus depriving the composer of their fair compensation. But if your accompanist needs to copy a single page to avoid a tricky page turn, it's not clear that buying more copies would help. And if the publisher doesn't offer a big-print edition (which is pretty much always), then your enlarging a copy you've already bought is hardly depriving anyone of anything. The same goes for your example of making a conductor's copy of a single work from an anthology; you've already bought the anthology (and presumably the singers have purchased copies also), so you're not avoiding purchase.
 
Assuming your copying passes the ethical test, the legal question in such gray areas IMO comes down to "Will I be sued?" And the answer is pretty much never. Realistically, what publisher is going to hire a $300/hr. lawyer to come after you for $2.25? Or try to convince a jury that you're a bad person because you blew up the music for your vision-impaired accompanist? Talk about a sympathetic defendant!
 
While many respondents encourage you to contact publishers for permission for uses like this, I'd only do so with small publishers or self-published composers. Big publishers will give you the bureaucratic runaround, then give you (at best) some lawyerly non-answer. It'll be a big waste of your time, because you're such a small fish. But by the same token, they can't be bothered to come after you over some technicality.
 
Out-of-print music is the toughest situation. If I were king, there'd be a law that any music which is POP for a certain time (maybe 3 years) would go into public domain automatically; but that's not the case, so you're stuck with going through the bureaucracy to get permission to copy (I assume the composer still gets their share of the fees in such cases). It's crazy that a business can insist on the exclusive right to sell something, while simultaneously not making it available for sale, but that's the law.
Applauded by an audience of 7
on January 6, 2016 9:28am
While all the above may be true, can anyone cite a recent case where a publisher is suing an institution for copyright infringement of any kind? It seems to me that the music publishing industry has its head in the sand regarding the tidal wave of digital download theft (buy 20 and print 40), illegal photocopying, etc. that is threatening the industry.  I see very little in the way of deterrence on their part.
 
There will have to be a new way of purchasing music in the near future, but so far, the solution seems to elude the industry. (My guess is that when kindle-like devices with stylus capabilities [a digital pencil] become cheap enough, we will all be downloading our music and paying a licensing fee.)
 
To answer your question, for what it's worth, legal or not, I would not hesitate to blow up a copy of a score for a seeing-impaired person, as long as I had a legal copy sitting on the shelf, unused. No publisher in their right mind would sue for such an infringement.  (Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer.  This is my opinion.  Follow this advice at your own risk.)  
 
In reality, if you tell your accompanist that you have to “let them go” because they can’t see well enough, your chances of getting sued by your accompanist are FAR greater than any publisher suing you for something that hasn’t cost them one nickel (assuming you have the unused copy on the shelf).  
 
It seems that we are in a snail-long transition where confusion abounds. At such a time, common sense may be our best defense.
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 5
on January 6, 2016 1:38pm
There is an article published in Music Educators Journal, V102, No.2, Dec 2015, pp.48-53 "Understanding Copyright and Fair Use in the Music Classroom" that might be of interest to you.  What I know unequivocally is, it isn't very clear at all.
Good luck.
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