Computers, General Interest, Professional Ethics

by Joyce Johnston

On January 25, Naomi Bates posted ways to tell when Google graphics are copyright free and when they’re not.  This week, you can check to see how much you know about finding copyright-free music in the U. S. and abroad. The answers will appear in my next post in just a few days. Have fun!

  1. If I’m actually teaching, won’t Fair Use let me play the music I need for free? How about in school plays or talent shows? Aerobics classes, marching band or orchestra concerts, student drama productions, choir? Music is everywhere in schools!
  2. So the issue is public performance versus instructional use. How do I know which is which?
  3. What types of music can I use for public performances without copyright hassles?
  4. That’s not a lot. Who do I talk to about getting legal access?
  5. That sounds so complicated. Is there some easy way that a school or college can get cheap performance rights?
  6. How about an individual or community group? Where can we get low-cost tunes for our own enjoyment?
  7. That’s better, but still not cheap. Could I use those Russian download sites I’ve heard about that charge $2.52 for a whole album?  They all claim to be legal.
  8. Well, is there any other country that can give me blanket access so I don’t have to go song by song? That takes forever.
  9. So what happens if I get fed up with all this and just download the songs I want via bit torrents? You know I can!
  10. Wait–are the penalties bad if I do get caught? What happens then?


Joyce Johnston teaches at George Mason University and has been writing and speaking on digital intellectual property and virtual instruction for more than 20 years. As a non-librarian, but a proud member of the Virginia Association of School Librarians, she has provided updates on intellectual property at its annual conference for the past 10 years and serves on the Executive Committee for the World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (aka EdMedia).

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