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Purchasing Sheet Music

Licensing and Usage Rights

The music within sheet music is protected under copyright law. There are several components of printed music that may be protected by copyright:

  • the music itself may be protected as a musical work;

  • any lyrics may be protected as a literary work; and

  • copyright in the typographical arrangement of a published edition may belong to the publisher of the work.

If the work is protected by any (or all) of these copyrights, the permissions of the copyright owner(s) is required before the music can be copied. As part of their exclusive rights to control specific uses made of their work, the copyright owner(s) is entitled to charge for giving permission to someone to copy their work, usually through a licence.

As with other copyright works, such as artistic or literary works, copyright prevents people from:

  • copying the work

  • distributing copies of the work, whether free of charge or for sale

  • renting or lending the work to the public

  • performing, showing or playing the work in public

  • making an adaptation of the work

  • broadcasting the work or making it available through the internet

These are economic rights, which allow a creator to make money from their creation. The creator(s) also has moral rights in the work, including the right to attribution and to object to false attribution, and the right to object to derogatory treatment of a work.

Purchasing sheet music is simply the legal transfer of a copy of an original work. It confers no rights for any activities restricted by these copyright laws.


Performing music of any kind in a public performance requires the relevant licensing and permissions, obtained through the venue and/or the publisher/copyright holder of the music. Purchasing the sheet music does not confer the right to perform it publicly.

Likewise, while recordings may be made of the sheet music for personal use, these recordings may not be broadcast, sold, or otherwise publicly shared without securing the relevant permissions.

Schools and other educational institutions may acquire a Schools Printed Music Licence via the Copyright Licensing Agency. In counties outside the UK, this may require direct correspondence with the publisher. Copyright law does allow for performance of a musical work in a classroom setting for educational purposes, but this does not extend to performance before an audience of people not directly connected with the school's activity.

Permissions Granted by Artificer Productions

In purchasing sheet music from Artificer Productions, the purchaser is expressly granted permission for the following activities, so long as the composer and publisher are clearly and consistently credited:

  • Playing and recording the piece for one's personal use

  • Playing, performing, and recording the piece in an educational context including:

    • exams​

    • recitals

    • auditions

  • Playing, performing, recording, analysing, and studying the piece in an educational context, such as between a student and teacher or in a musical institution

  • Recording of a private performance which may be shared publicly in a completely non-commercial and unmonetized manner

No activities may be undertaken which result in the taking of monies or the making of profit from this sheet music. Such activities constitute a breach of copyright law and will be followed up with legal actions from the publisher.

In most circumstanced, Artificer Productions is happy to grant permission to those who have purchased sheet music to perform them in public in isolated and non-commercial contexts. Percussion students playing these pieces in a public recital, for example, would most likely receive permission to do so. Please seek this permission via email beforehand to avoid any difficulties occurring after the fact.

Sources and Further Reading

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