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Images, Music, & Copyright

A guide to finding legally reusable images and sounds.

Brooks Library Music Resources

The Brooks Library has access to several databases that contain either music or information about music: Databases For Subject: "Music".  The three databases that provide access to music or other audio are:

  • Classical Music Library is the world's largest multi-label database of Classical music recordings for listening and learning in libraries.  Instructions for embedding or linking to the content of the Classical Music Library are available here.  If you limit your reuse to these approved methods the publishers of the Classical Music Library will perceive your reuse as consistent with the Fair Use [Title 17, section 107] provisions of US Copyright Law. 
    [Also: Every two weeks Alexander Street - the publsihers of Classical Music LIbrary - offers a free music download from their classical music collection and from the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.]
     
  • OAIster is a database of over 20 million digital items held by nearly 1100 libraries, museums, and organizations. The types of files include audio files (e.g., wav, mp3) and movies (e.g., mp4, quicktime).  Select "Sound Recordings" under the 'Document Type' dropdown.  Some of the recordings will be available online, others will need to be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.
     
  • Oxford Music Online provides links to all of the articles in its Grove Music Online database that feature Sibelius-enabled musical examples along with direct links to the Sibelius files.  To hear these examples you must have the Sibelius Scorch plugin.  The articles can be searched as examples illustrating elements of a composer's style or technique, or a particular theorist's ideas, or you can use their A–Z List of articles that currently feature Sibelius Scorch-enabled examples.
     

The Brooks Library Music Department includes both sheet music and recorded music in its collection.  Performance of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, does not require permission from the copyright holder.  And musical compositions created before 1923 require no permission to perform regardless of your intended use, but a post-1923 recording of a pre-1923 work may need permission to be used in a derivative creation like a video (and particularly so if displayed outside the classroom).  Your 'Fair Use' rights provide you with significant latitude in making use of copyrighted knowledge for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research - but these rights become more nebulous and vague the further outside of the classroom or newsroom you are.