Why must Amateur Choirs have a Licence?

The basics
There are several components of printed music that may be protected by copyright:
• the music itself may be protected as a musical work;
• any lyrics may be protected as a literary work; and
• copyright in the typographical arrangement of a published edition may belong to the publisher of the work.

If the work is protected by any (or all) of these copyrights, the permissions of the copyright owner(s) is required before the music can be copied. As part of their exclusive rights to control specific uses made of their work, the copyright owner(s) is entitled to charge for giving permission to someone to copy their work, usually through a licence.

What does copyright protect in printed music?
As with other copyright works, such as artistic or literary works, copyright prevents people from:
• copying the work
• distributing copies of the work, whether free of charge or for sale
• renting or lending the work to the public
• performing, showing or playing the work in public
• making an adaptation of the work
• broadcasting the work or making it available through the internet

These are economic rights, which allow a creator to make money from their creation. The creator(s) also has moral rights in the work, including the right to attribution and to object to false attribution, and the right to object to derogatory treatment of a work.

How do I get permission to make copies?
There two ways in which you can obtain permission to copy sheet music
(1) You can ask the permission of the right holder(s). They may be happy for you to make the copies when you explain your requirements, they may ask you to pay for a licence, or they may refuse permission.

(2) You can obtain a licence from PMLL to allow you to legally make copies of sheet music.  The Amateur Choir Licence allows choirs to copy and make minor arrangements of sheet music without needing individual permission from the rightsowner(s).

If you and your choir copy sheet music, then you need to do the responsible thing and get your Amateur Choir Licence now! Click here to find read more about our licence.