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Commonly asked questions regarding schools and copyrights…

Question 1: "Are schools exempt from the payment of copyright royalties?"

Answer: No. Schools (public or private), and school teachers and students, are not exempt from the law that governs the recording of copyrighted music. Fair use allows you to record and archive a single copy of a song for instructional purposes, but you may not record your choir or band concert either on audiotape or videotape and distribute copies of that recording without paying mechanical/compulsory and/or synchronization fees to copyright owners.  Read more about fair use here.

Question 2: "Are festivals exempt from the payment of copyright royalties?"

Answer: No. No more than schools and teachers and students.

Question 3: "If I'm giving away the copies, not selling them, are they exempt?"

Answer: No. The law requires that you must pay when you "distribute" copies. Distribution is defined as when "the person exercising the compulsory license has voluntarily and permanently parted with its (phonorecord) possession." Very simply, unless you pay mechanical/compulsory fees, you may not record multiple copies of copyrighted songs and sell them, give them away, store them, or toss them over the cliff on the school's back forty…

Question 4: "If I'm selling the copies for a worthwhile, non-profit cause, are they exempt?"

Answer: No. See the answer to question 3.

Question 5: "If I'm only going to record 10 (more or less) copies, are they exempt?

Answer: No. You may record ONE copy for education use or for your archives. You may not record more than one copy without paying copyright fees.