What is Copyright?
Copyright is legal protection afforded to the creator or owner of a given work. That protection allows the copyright holder to publish, perform, film, or create derivative works based upon the original, as well as the right to authorize or decline authorization to others who wish to publish, perform, film, or create derivative works based upon the original.
What is this whole Public Domain thing?
The public domain is a body of resources that are in Public Ownership; either the copyright protection has expired, or it has been made available freely to use without licensing or permission with little or no restrictions from the creator or copyright holder of that work.
If it's in the public domain, that means I don't have to cite the source, right?
If a piece - say Beethoven's 9th Symphony - is in the public domain, that means I don't have to worry about the edition, right?
I'm a student - can't I do anything under fair use?
Basically. . . . no. There are limitations to fair use, and you need to be aware of them. Use these 4 factors to determine if you are covered under fair use:
1. How do you intend to use the work - for profit, or educational / not-for-profit? Is the intended use transformative - are you creating a new idea, insight, expression or understanding. . . or just copying verbatim?
2. What is the nature of the work? (In a music setting, you will normally be working with creative works that have been published.)
3. What is the portion taken; how substantive is that portion; and what is the relative degree of harm to the copyright holder?
4. What is the effect of the intended use upon the potential market value?
So, what CAN I do under fair use?
These are always subject to the factors above, but some of the most common approved fair use exemptions (uses that do not require special licensing or permission from the copyright holder) are:
In a nutshell, here is fair use for musicians:
NO: Fair use protections do not apply to resources created for consumption including musical excercises, workbooks, study guides, etc.
YES: Fair use protections do allow for reproduction (scan, xerox) of up to 10% of the entire paginated work for the purpose of criticism, analysis, study, etc.
NO: It is never allowable to under fair use to reproduce an entire performable unit (aria, movement, concerto, song, etc.)
YES: For any work that is in the public domain, it is permissible to reproduce, record, film, perform, create derivative works, etc. If the work is creative commons, you'll have to refer to the specific terms of the creator on a case-by-case basis.