Music department struggles with copyright

Recently the music department has had trouble with the way they choose music for the choirs and bands. “Usually, I use catalogs that are sent to me and websites like JW Pepper,” choir teacher Samantha Robilliard said. “I also use YouTube to look up certain choirs I like just to see what they are doing.”

With any changes in the rules, there is the possibility of delayed music for show choir. “A lot of the publicity on copyright music is towards show choir, because we have people arrange songs we’ve heard on the radio,” Samantha Robilliard said. “You have to pay for the rights then the arrangements. You have to make sure you have the rights to the music you are performing. Right now I am doing a song that I’ve had trouble finding music to. I did find it, but it’s out of stock. It’s in Korea right now. I’m hoping it will work out, but if we don’t get the rights we can’t perform it.”

If the music is copyrighted, the music department cannot perform the song in public or reproduce it in any way. United States Copyright law aims to protect the work of authors, whether it is published or not. “It’s not that the rules have changed,” band teacher Jeff Robilliard said. “No one really went after school districts because we are not trying to make money off of it, but now certain companies are trying to hold arrangers, teachers and school districts more accountable to make sure they aren’t breaking any laws. Sometimes the arrangers are making money off of it, or the school is making money in certain events.”

The difference that could come from a change of how teachers get music has to do with the cost of buying the rights to the music. “For my experience in marching band, it’s usually $150-600,” Jeff Robilliard said. “And that is just for one song.”

Although there has not been any official changes in the copyright laws, the music teachers will keep on trying to get music with the rights intact. “It’s just stressful, because as a teacher you want to make sure you are doing everything right,”Jeff Robilliard said. “I have heard that teachers have lost their jobs because of copyright infringement. So, we are very careful.”