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Thread: Legality of scanning music

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    Forum Contributor 2008 MaestroMD's Avatar
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    Default Legality of scanning music

    I've been contemplating scanning all of my music (solos, books, etc.) into my computer as a backup. Is this legal assuming that all of it has been properly acquired (purchased)? My thoughts were to save it as a pdf and then store it on a CD/DVD or USB drive.

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    SOTW Forum Adminstrator fballatore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    I think that if it's for your own personal use as a backup and won't be shared with anyone, that it's perfectly OK to do that. But I'm not a copyright attorney.
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    jordanreed's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    just don't go to some website and tell everyone your plan and it should be ok...

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    Forum Contributor 2008 MaestroMD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    Quote Originally Posted by jordanreed View Post
    just don't go to some website and tell everyone your plan and it should be ok...
    I want to live my life right. I am not a dishonest person and if it is against the law, I don't want to do it. I am aware that some people think that it is ok to do whatever they want then plead ignorance. I am not that type of person.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    I'm pretty sure the copyright laws are focusing on distributing the material, if it's for your own personal use I think it'd be okay.

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    One is allowed, by copyright law, to make one back-up copy. Get to it.
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    Quote Originally Posted by MaestroMD View Post
    I want to live my life right. I am not a dishonest person and if it is against the law, I don't want to do it. I am aware that some people think that it is ok to do whatever they want then plead ignorance. I am not that type of person.

    Brother, almost everything is illegal these days and it's getting worse. Just wait 'till you get busted for a 'thought crime'.

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    Forum Contributor 2008 DetroitDave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    Quote Originally Posted by jordanreed View Post
    just don't go to some website and tell everyone your plan and it should be ok...
    ... especially some internationally known site with thousands of musicians looking at it every week.

    I think a complete listing all the music being copied is in order here.

    Then each of us can volunteer to download the scanned-in copies to serve as super safe off-site storage backups. Y'know, if the fire is gonna get the hardcopy sheet music, it'll probably get the computer, too. Better to play it safe and let everyone help with the safe storage issue.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    once you own the book/cd or whatever it is you are allowed to make copies for your own personal use. backups etc. or if you want to make a paper copy of a book/music and so that the book doesn't get destroyed taking it to/from rehearsals and gigs you're legally entitled to do so. no "pleading ignorance" about it. the thing is yours. make backups. make copies for when you need to use the stuff. that way the original books/cds will stay pristine down the line and you don't have to buy new ones in 2020 when they're $1500 each.

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    Forum Sponsor DaveKessler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    Quote Originally Posted by breinermusic View Post
    in 2020 when they're $1500 each.
    Afraid to think what gas must be costing in 2020 by these predictions!

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    Forum Contributor 2011 CardinalRule's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    I'm a music librarian and it is legal for you to copy your sheet music or cds, etc. for your personal use; to archive it in your own "library" for example. When libraries buy a cd it is with the intent to loan it to people. Often a library--especially a music library-- will make a copy of this item and keep the original archived, loaning the facsimile. It's known as the "fair use" rule...
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    I made inquiries to an official source in Australia and received discouraging news. This is what I found out about Australian copyright law:
    1. Legal to transpose music into a different key.
    2. Legal to enlarge music for a visually handicapped musician.
    3. Legal to copy a page in order to help with a difficult page turnover.
    4. Legal to make photocopies if you work for a school that has paid for a blanket licence to copy music for school bands.
    5. Illegal to copy music under any other circumstances without having obtained permission from the copyright holders.
    6. The legal purchase of sheet music does NOT convey the right to make backup copies or to make multiple copies (e.g. for a brass band or concert band).
    7. The publisher's copyright expires after a reasonable period - it might be 25 years but I can't remember the exact number of years.
    8. The copyrights of composers, lyricists and arrangers lasts for 75 years after the death of the copyright holder. Up until 1996 this was 50 years in Australia so Glenn Miller's copyrights expired in 1994 - 50 years after his death in 1944.

    Modern music normally shows the copyright year and copyright holder at the foot of the first page. Older music omits the copyright year but I would think that the omission of the copyright year means that the publication is old enough to be out of the publisher's copyright. Copyrights for composers, lyricists and arrangers are a nightmare. We can find out the date of death of famous people but how is it feasible to find out the date of death of non-famous people (they might even be still alive).

    Having said all of that, I will list some circumstances where the restriction on copies seems unreasonable:
    1. A brass band or concert band needs additional parts for a newly recruited flute player. They need the parts immediately and it is unreasonable for them to wait weeks until new parts are purchased and delivered (some parts might be out of print).
    2. The purchaser of sheet music wants to scan it into PDF files for backup storage on computer media.
    3. The owner of a music tablet display wants to copy his paper music into computer files for display on his tablet.

    When a law is unreasonable, lots of people will break that law. Is there a concert band anywhere that is not making illegal photocopies? I doubt it.
    I have heard of publishers taking legal action against flagrant violators of the copyright laws. In those cases the offenders were selling their illegal copies and I have no problem with the publishers' actions.

    So there is a long reply to a short question.

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Technician. Oric Muso's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legality of scanning music

    It varies in different countries. I'm not aware if libraries here in the UK making copied of CDs. When I've borrowed CDs I always got the original.

    Some countries allow you to back up CDs other don't. With things like iPods attitudes have changed but I'm not sure if they law has been altered to accomodate such things.

    With my sheet music I photocopy a sheet to use with the band and put it in a book of plastic pocket sleeves so I only have to take that not masses of original books. I use stuff from a few Real books so it really isn't practiceable to lug those about. I may well be breaking the law here.

    I think copyright goes a bit OTT. If I do a painting ro create some work of art I get paid for it and that's the end of it. With music they want to get paid royalities for playing the music on the radio. And then if a shop is playing the radio to its customers the PRS wants payment again. And the artists get's his cut from the CD that was used in the first place.

    What other trade gets paid over and over again for a piece of work? If I repair a sax I don't get a cut every time the sax player uses the instrument. The manufacturer doesn't get a slice for creating such a lovely musical instrument.

    Not only do the authors want the royalities during their lifetime, but it goes on for decades after they have died. 50 years in some places, 70 elsewhere. Isn't it time for a rethink?

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