Copyright Advice for Schools

The Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival Association negotiates very specific agreements with music publishing companies to allow us to re-print the sheet music for each year’s Festival repertoire into the rehearsal material such as accompaniment books and song books. This means that there are some restrictions on how that sheet music can be used.

The key restriction is that the Festival’s accompaniment books and song books can only be used for the purpose of rehearsing and performing as part of the Festival, not for any other purpose such as a school concert or showcase.


Can my school choir perform any of the Festival repertoire in a school concert, showcase, or assembly?

Yes you can, but you have to make sure your school has purchased its own copies of the sheet music for the songs you wish to sing. Because the sheet music in the Festival’s accompaniment books and song books is only for use as part of the Festival itself, you have to be able to prove that the school has separately purchased the appropriate sheet music to cover its copyright obligations.

What if we don’t use the Festival song books during our school performance; that is, we sing from memory one of the songs from the Festival?

Unfortunately, this is still probably a breach of the restrictions placed on us as you have still used the Festival-only material to learn those songs. It is always recommended that your school purchase enough originals of the sheet music itself to cover its copyright obligations.

What about singing some of the Festival’s songs during an open-rehearsal?

As long the setting in which you are singing part or all of a song from Festival material is truly in the style of a rehearsal (i.e. you are openly rehearsing where you normally rehearse Festival repertoire, observers are coming and going throughout the open-rehearsal, and you are not simply singing songs in full one after the other without stopping to work on them) then this is fine.

If we purchase enough original sheet music of a Festival song to cover our own performance of that song, can we use the piano-only version of the Festival’s rehearsal tracks to accompany our performance?

Unfortunately, no. The rehearsal tracks that the Festival’s music team create can only be used for the purpose of rehearsing for the Festival, not as a virtual piano accompanist during a school performance.

At the end of a Festival season, can we keep the accompaniment books and song books and use them for school performances?

Each student can keep their copy of the Song Book as a take-home souvenir if they wish but the school cannot use any of the Festival’s material for a school performance. Just because Festival material is from a previous year, it does not mean that the copyright restrictions have lapsed. Once a Festival season is over, it is best to simply put any Festival material in the recycling. Again, if you wish to perform any of those songs in a school concert, make sure to note down the names of the songs so that you can purchase the sheet music for the school.

Can we photocopy any of the Festival material?

The sheet music contained with the Festival materials are not deemed as “originals” so therefore you cannot photocopy them under any photocopying scheme/allowance such as the 1:5 ratio (1 original allows for 5 photocopies) specified in the OneMusic Music in Schools Licence. However, if you wish to buy your own originals of the sheet music for a particular song, remember the 1:5 original-photocopy ratio means that, for example, if you have a choir of 30 students, you will only have to buy 6 originals to cover your copyright obligations.

OK, so where can I buy originals of the sheet music for my school to cover our own performances?

The majority of the sheet music for the songs in the Festival can be purchased from the big online sheet music retailers such as Musicnotes, Sheet Music Plus, or J.W. Pepper. If you can’t find the sheet music on those websites, Google is always the best bet to help you find another website which may be able to sell you the sheet music.

Hold on, doesn’t the OneMusic Music in Schools Licence give us coverage to use this material?

In the specific case of the Festival, it does not. The licences from OneMusic provide blanket performing rights coverage (this means that schools do not have to separately seek permission to perform a song after purchasing the sheet music for it) and allow for making 5 photocopies of one original purchase of a piece of sheet music. So the OneMusic licence gives you coverage regarding the right to perform songs from the Festival, but it does not cover the fact that the Festival material you have used to learn that music has very restricted use rights. You or your school has to make sure it has purchased enough originals of any sheet music for a song you wish to perform, to completely cover your copyright obligations.

What are we paying for when we pay for the song books and accompaniment books from the Festival?

When you purchase song books and accompaniment books from the Festival, you are not actually paying for the sheet music within; you are simply covering (in-part) the printing cost of this material. That’s why the sheet music in that material are not deemed as “originals” and cannot be used outside of rehearsing of performing for the Festival.