Copyright Resources

Music for All is committed to full compliance with the copyright laws of the United States.

This section is in no way meant to be definitive. Rather, it is a guideline to help you begin your pursuit for permissions to arrange or record. Compliance is the responsibility of everyone in the creative process including the teachers, the arrangers, the event host (such as Music for All/Bands of America for its events) and anyone who records, duplicates or distributes content protected by copyright (such as Music for All/Bands of America in its web streaming).

Music for All is committed to full compliance with the copyright laws of the United States and requires all participating ensembles to comply with copyright laws including: arrangements of copyrighted music, use of copyrighted visual images and other materials, use of copyrighted audio or spoken text, and display of copyrighted words and images.

Music for All (Bands of America) participants and others are welcome to use the resources provided in this site. New technologies and their use continually affect the application of copyright law. While we believe the information is accurate, we provide no guarantee or warranty concerning these materials or the interpretation or applicability of the laws to your situation. We recommend that individuals first complete the Understanding Copyright and Compliance course, free on This course, provided as a resource by the National Federation of State High School Associations, will cover the basics of U.S. Copyright and answer most questions.

Understanding Copyright & Compliance Course (free from NFHS Learn)

We encourage you to become familiar with the NFHS Copyright Resource page. Resources offered by the National Federation of State High School Associations are designed to be educational in nature and are not to be used as legal advice. It is important to consult your own legal counsel prior to taking any action involving copyright.

NFHS Copyright Resources

Bands of America Participant Requirements

All documentation must be submitted for Music for All/Bands of America to fulfill its legal and administrative obligations. Bands will not be permitted to participate until they have provided Music for All with their copyright report. This copyright report identifies all music being played and requires participating directors to submit the proper licensing for each composition.¬†Please remember that each song needs to be reported individually,¬†including each song within a medley. [Example: If you are performing a medley titled “Happy Fourth of July!‚ÄĚ, for which your arranger properly obtained the necessary custom arrangement licensing, in the copyright report, you would not enter “Happy Fourth of July!”. You would need to enter the titles of the individual songs within the medley (“God Bless America”, “This Land Is Your Land”, and “Proud To Be an American”, etc.)]¬†

Help! I can’t find the question I am looking for. Who can I contact at Music for All to get the answers I need?

Contact James Stephens at or call 1-800-848-2263.

Frequently Asked Questions (Click on the question to see the answer)

Do I Need Copyright Permission for my Marching Band Show? Yes.

You are required by law to obtain permission to arrange or adapt copyrighted material prior to creating any arrangements. To accommodate the publishers’ processing needs, you should submit your permission requests at least eight (8) weeks prior to the date by which you plan to start arranging. Do not wait until your entire show is finished. We encourage you to submit requests for permissions to arrange as early as possible and prior to committing to your show concept and content. If you are also planning to participate in Bands of America events or other events where your show may be streamed, we also encourage that you inquire (of the publisher/copyright holder/copyright service provider) whether there may be restrictions or prohibitions on the synchronization (video recording and distribution) of the music you selected and whether the rights‚Äô holder expects unusually high royalties or fees to ensue.

What Constitutes a New Arrangement?
  1. Creation of a completely new arrangement of a copyrighted song.
  2. Adapting or altering a marching band or drum corps arrangement
  3. Arrangements made from a concert band score.
  4. Purchased arrangements played with added parts (for example, adding percussion where none existed).

Permission to arrange is not required if you are using a purchased arrangement as written, a completely original composition, or a confirmed public domain composition.

How Do I Obtain Permission to Arrange or Adapt Music for My Show?

Permission to arrange or adapt copyrighted music must be obtained from the copyright owner or print representative prior to starting your arrangement. You should submit your permission requests as soon as you have a tentative repertoire to ensure adequate time for processing, payment, and return of formal permission. We suggest submitting requests a minimum of 8 weeks prior to arranging your music. We also encourage you to inquire about the availability of your songs to be synchronized for video recording and distribution and whether any special fixing fees, minimums or other restrictions or requirements may exist.

There are easy ways to obtain permission to arrange copyrighted songs:

  1. Contact a Print Representative Online.¬†Your request will be processed most promptly when your request is submitted to the print publisher whose catalog includes your song(s). If known, submit your request to the proper print publisher. If the proper print publisher is not known, you may use a “category request” and submit your song(s) from your show to one of the print publishers listed below for processing. Most print publishers include a list of administered catalogs on their licensing website and will send referral information for songs not included in their catalog.
  2. Tresona¬ģ Licensing Exchange (¬†Tresona operates an automated online service for which applicants pay no fees for administration. Its library includes most works owned or managed by major studios or publishing companies.

For Popular Repertoire, submit to:

  1. Hal Leonard Corporation (, which will direct you to Tresona¬ģ and its service.
  2. Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. (

For Classical Repertoire, submit to:

  1. Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. (
  2. G. Schirmer, Inc. (

These print publishers represent a large amount of repertoire most often utilized by marching ensembles. You may need to contact additional companies for those few works not handled by these publishers.

  1. Contact the Copyright Owner Directly. These databases provide writer, performer and publisher contact information for most published works:



Once you have determined who controls the licensing rights, send each holder a written request for each song using the Permission to Arrange Form prepared by the Music Publishers’ Association. Please note that many composers use print representatives such as Hal Leonard Corporation or Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. to process arrangement requests and may not respond to requests direct or my direct you to their representatives. You may need to contact the copyright owner directly for more obscure or specialized repertoire. Submitting requests is free. This option may take more time and responses from publishers may be delayed.

What Is a Public Domain Song?

A composition that is in the “Public Domain” is one that is considered “under the ownership of the public.” In other words, anyone can use it for any purpose without having to obtain permission.¬†A general rule, compositions created before 1923 are now in the Public Doman. While works in the public domain do not require obtaining a permission to arrange,¬†many published arrangements of public domain works are still under copyright¬†and will require permission from the music publisher if you wish to adapt them for your ensemble. However, this only pertains to¬†PUBLISHED WORKS, and does NOT include sound recordings.

You can confirm the public domain status of compositions with the U.S. Copyright Office at the following address:

U.S. Copyright Office

Library of Congress

Washington, D.C. 20559

(202) 707-3000 ‚Äď Phone

Due to the modification of the GATT treaty on January 1, 1995 the copyright to the works of the following Russian composers were restored and copyright is still in effect. Permission must be obtained to adapt or arrange their compositions.


 U.S. Publisher






 G. Schirmer Inc.

 c/O Music Sales Corporation

 257 Park Avenue South

 New York, NY 10010

 (212) 254-2100 РPhone

 (212) 254-2013 РFax


 Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.

 35 East 21st Street

 New York, NY 10010

 (212) 358-5300 РPhone

 (212) 358-5305 РFax

The publishers for most other foreign composers can be determined through a search of the ASCAP or BMI databases.

How Can I Learn Whether Songs I’m Considering for My Show Have Special Requirements and/or Restrictions?

If you are using a copyright licensing service, you may inquire of them whether there exist any known copyright owner restrictions, prohibitions or special conditions place upon synchronization licenses for songs you intend to use in/arrange for your show. Other print rights holders/administrators from whom you may also obtain permissions to arrange should be able to guide/inform you regarding songs in their library. Generally, Music for All/Bands of America will not contract for synchronization licenses that include fixing fees or higher rates than routinely paid that or commercially infeasible or that trigger or may trigger ‚Äúmost favored nations‚ÄĚ provisions increasing licensing costs for entire volumes of performances.¬†

Why Might Permissions for Some Compositions Be Denied?

Some reasons permission may be denied are:

  • If the publisher or songwriter prefers not to have the music arranged in a format other than how it was originally written.
  • If the copyright to the song is in dispute.
  • If contractual restrictions surrounding the original creation of the music prevent additional licensing.
Can I Borrow or Buy an Arrangement from Another Organization or Arranger?

No. This is what would be considered under copyright law and many licensing agreements as an “Unauthorized use.” Many licensing agreements contain clauses that protect the publishers in these situations by retaining ownership, referring to them as a “Work for Hire.” You must obtain permission for the creation of the arrangement in your possession. You may not “borrow” or “buy” it directly from another organization or arranger.

Copyright Terms Defined

What does “Works for Hire” mean?

If a work is classified “Work for Hire” or “Work Made for Hire,” then the employer (usually the Publishing company) is considered the owner of the work, not the employee (an arranger). Even if¬†YOU, the band director, paid the fees to the arranger or¬†YOU¬†did the arrangement, the publishing company still retains ownership of the arrangement.

What does “Most Favored Nations” mean?

“Most Favored Nations” is a typical clause in licensing agreements that states if you (licensee) agree to pay “Publishing Company A” a higher rate than “Publishing Company B” for similar use on a project, then you must also pay “Publishing Company B” that higher rate. This is put in place to ensure the publishing companies get fair and competitive rates for the use of their compositions.¬†

Why is the Reimbursement Fee Different for Different Songs or Publishers?

The minimum licensing rates vary from one publisher to the next. The reimbursement fee reflects the specific minimum royalty rate charged by each publisher.

Why Does This Seem Complicated?

Every copyright owner has a right to protect their works, set terms of use and be compensated for the use of their works with few exceptions. These rights are not to be infringed upon any more than your right to free speech or privacy. Copyright is complicated not for the sake of being complicated, but rather to protect those parties’ interest in the ownership of their Intellectual Property.

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