Saskatoon Music Festival

Encouraging & Supporting Young Musicians since 1930


Copyright is literally the right to copy. The composer usually owns the copyright for a specific piece and they in turn assign the right to a publisher to help engrave, promote and distribute the piece. The publisher pays the composer a royalty on each copy sold. So who has the right to photocopy or alter a composer's work? Only the composer! 

Copying music by any means for the purpose of performance is expressly prohibited except under the fair use guidelines: "Emergency copying to replace purchased copies which for any reason are not available for an imminent performance is allowed, provided purchased replacement copies shall be substituted in due course.”  What does the statement above mean? Let's give some examples: 

1) One of your sopranos is participating in a District Festival next week but the required music hasn't arrived yet. You make photocopies from your personal library. It is fair use – provided you don't cancel your order. The festival committee may request a sales slip from a music store to prove that the music has been ordered and paid for.

2) Your eighth grade clarinet player has misplaced the solo he was to perform. You make a photocopy from another student's music and order a new copy for the first student. Again, this is fair use but you must order the copy and provide proof of purchase. 

There is no excuse for not having a second or third copy for the adjudicator or accompanist. Most major publishers will grant permission to make up to three copies (provided you have an original) for a small fee or no fee at all. BUT, you have to email them and ask for permission. They will then instruct you on how many copies you may make and what needs to be written on the bottom of each copy. This email permission must be provided to the festival.  

Copying for a page turn is not allowed and is an infringement of the law. Photocopies for page turning purposes will only be allowed when written permission is supplied by the holder of the copyright material. The Frederick Harris Music Co. Limited allows festival participants to photocopy one page per selection from their publications in order to facilitate a page turn. 

If you wish to transpose any existing publication or modify it in any way, you must seek permission. It is illegal to duplicate or alter music that has been copyrighted. 

Music in the Public Domain should be researched by your local music store to ensure it is in the Public Domain before any selection is used for Festival purposes. Publications that are out of print or in the Public Domain may not be photocopied until you have cleared it with the rightful owner. Your local music store should be able to assist you with any of these procedures. 

Although many websites claim to offer Free Public Domain music, competitors need to be aware that, in most cases, the music is not free and has been illegally scanned or copied from a publishing company.  For instance, all of J.S. Bach's works are in the public domain; however, a publisher has gone to considerable expense to digitize or in some cases, engrave their particular edition of the work.  This involves hours of deciphering and deciding what the original manuscript noted, and making decisions based on experience. The publisher's edition is copyrighted and protected under the copyright law.  It is therefore illegal to download a scanned or copied version that someone has posted on the internet.  Avoid using these "free" websites for festival choices, unless you have actually paid a fee or have written permission from the author/composer for the piece and can provide proof of purchase to your District Festival.