Prepared by Bonna Boettcher, Mary Wallace Davidson, David Farneth.
Approved by the Board of Directors of the Music Library Association, February 1996.
The Congress shall have Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. —U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 8.
The Copyright Law (U.S. Code, Title 17) was established to balance the rights of authors, composers, performers and other owners of intellectual property, with the rights of users. Many scholarly and pedagogical uses of music materials are legitimate and vital to preserve and foster creativity and to ensure transmission of cultural heritage in the United States, thus fulfilling this stated need for balance.
Section 107 of the Copyright Law allows for the "fair use" of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Additional guidelines (H.R. Rep. No. 94-1476, and The United States Copyright Law: A Guide for Music Educators) permit multiple copies for classroom use under certain circumstances.
The following four factors, taken together, determine what constitutes fair use. The first three factors are usually important in determining the fourth.
Apart from fair use for individual study and research, and classroom teaching, still most troubling to music librarians is Section 108(h), which excludes music from the type of copying that librarians need to do in the course of their regular work (interlibrary loan, preservation, etc.) Section 108(f) (4), however, states that, "Nothing in this section... in any way affects the right of fair use as provided by section 107."
The Music Library Association supports the constitutional purpose of copyright: to promote the public welfare through the advancement of knowledge. Anyone has the right to make copies of library materials under the provisions defined in the fair use section of the Copyright Law. MLA urges its members to consider these four factors when developing institutional policies and educating library users about their rights and obligations under the law.
With respect to electronic media, the intention and end result, not the means of conveyance, should be the determining factors in deciding whether a specific use of an electronic copy is fair, assuming that use has satisfied all the other four factors.
The Music Library Association will continue to pursue discussions with appropriate agencies in determining how best to satisfy the law when using emerging technologies to advance music study and research.
Music librarians organize, provide systematic access to, and preserve, in many kinds of repositories, a wide range of resources -- manuscripts, printed music and literature, audiovisual materials, and databases -- in support of research and study. Such resources often cannot otherwise be obtained. In furthering the advancement of music scholarship, and in providing for the needs of individual and classroom study, researchers, faculty, and librarians must continue to make use of copyrighted materials to the fullest extent allowable under the Copyright Law, or else lose their right of fair use by failing to exercise and defend it.