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What is Fair Use?
Fair Use is an exception in the copyright law that allows small portions of a work to be used without permission for nonprofit, news, educational, or parody purposes. The doctrine is "murky" and often misunderstood. To fall under fair use, only a small portion of the work may be used and the use must not affect the value or marketability of the work. Selling concert recordings or photocopying sheet music without permission would not fall under fair use. Check out the following links for more information on Fair Use.
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What is Public Domain?
If a song’s music and lyrics were published before 1923 the song is in the Public Domain and does not require licensing (permission from the copyright owner) for any use. However, even Public Domain songs need to be licensed if you are playing from a copyrighted sheet music arrangement. There is a lot of confusion over what is and is not in the Public Domain (free to use without permission). It is very important that you do the proper research to know - not guess - the Public Domain status of the song. Check out the Public Domain challenge below to see what we’re talking about. Did you score 100% on the first try? If not, consider getting help to determine the Public Domain status of your song. Not sure of the Public Domain status of your song? Let us do free copyright research for you. If the song is Public Domain, we will confirm this. If not, we will help you clear the permission you need.
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What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. The law gives music creators six exclusive rights, making it illegal for others to use their music without permission. The six protections cover each of the various ways music is used...

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How to copyright your music

To gain all of the protections of the copyright law, you need to copyright your music. Luckily, this is really easy to do. In fact, music is automatically copyrighted the moment you create it in a tangible medium...

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Compulsory mechanical licensing law

Once phonorecords of a musical work have been publicly distributed in the United States with the copyright owner’s consent, anyone else may, under certain circumstances and subject to limited conditions, obtain a "compulsory license" to make and distribute phonorecords of the work without express permission from the copyright owner...

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Public domain

Songs published before 1923 are in the public domain and do not require licensing for any use. However, more often than not, songs are copyrighted, even if they seem really old. It can be tempting to assume a song is in the public domain just because it's old. But to do things properly, you need to be sure. The best way to know for sure whether a song is...

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Christmas songs in the public domain

Learn the public domain status of 76 very popular Christmas songs. Did you know that eleven of the top twenty most covered songs are Christmas songs? Some are new, written less than 100 years ago. Many date back to the 1800s. When selecting songs for your holiday album, it is useful to consider which of these beloved classics are in the public domain...

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Fair use

Fair Use is an exception in the copyright law that allows small portions of a work to be used without permission for nonprofit, news, educational, or parody purposes. The doctrine is "murky" and often misunderstood. To fall under fair use, only a small portion of the work may be used and the use must not affect the value or marketability of the work...

Read more
https://www.easysonglicensing.com/pages/help/articles/copyright-law/articles-about-copyright-law.aspx
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