Permission to use material protected by copyright is required if your proposed use does not qualify as fair use or another exception in the copyright law.
For assistance from the Copyright Licensing Office (CLO) in seeking permission for materials in your course select the Copyright Permissions/Electronic Course Reserve System (CPCR). For assistance in obtaining permission for materials for all other purposes, select “Other Copyright Permissions Requests” below.
This system allows users to submit items protected by copyright for placement in the Library Electronic Course Reserve or BYU Learning Suite. CLO personnel will address copyright issues and seek permission when needed. Licensing fees for use of materials are paid by the Copyright Licensing Office, a free service for BYU faculty and staff.
This system allows BYU faculty and staff to submit items protected by copyright for requesting permission that will NOT be in the Library Electronic Course Reserve or BYU Learning Suite. Payment for licensing fees are the responsibility of the requester.
How to obtain Music Rights
If you plan to use music in a video or other production, you must first get permission from the publisher and record label of the music. If the music is an original composition by you or someone you know, then you will not need permission. However, if you recorded a “cover” of a popular song then you will still need permission from the publisher (who represents the underlying music and lyrics) even if you don’t need permission from the record label (since you’re using your own recording). It is imperative that you begin this process early. Don’t wait until the week before an anticipated video release. Securing rights can take a very long time. You should plan for a minimum of 2-4 weeks in order to find the correct copyright owners and submit a request, and 2 months or more in order to receive a response. Some clearances have taken us up to 6 months if they are particularly complicated. In these difficult cases, sometimes it is best to either write your own original music or choose a lesser-known artist who would gladly like the exposure your video or production may provide. Also remember that if your use is for scholarly/research/news reporting/teaching purposes or if it is parodying the original song then you may have a Fair Use argument, which requires no permission. See our Fair Use page for more info.
Note: This same process may work in a parallel manner for the clearance of film clips or other types of creative content.
Steps to Obtain Music Rights
- Be sure you own a lawfully obtained copy of the music selected.
- Verify the title and composer(s) (use CD liner notes or Wikipedia)
- Find the name and contact info for the publisher of your musical selection by searching in the following databases*:
a. ASCAP – www.ascap.com (click “ACE / Repertory Search”) / (212) 621-6160
b. BMI – www.bmi.com/search/ (use the “Search BMI Repertoire” box) / (800) 800-9313
c. SESAC– www.sesac.com (click “Repertory”) / (615) 320-0055
TIP: Use the “composer(s)” and/or “performer/artist” search option more often than the “title” option. (Titles can’t be copyright protected, so there can be multiple songs called “I Got Rhythm” but you might just be looking for the one written by George and Ira Gershwin.)
TIP: Try calling ASCAP/BMI/SESAC if you’re having trouble finding your musical selection in the database and they can help.
*If your choice of music is relatively unknown, you may also try contacting the musician directly at his/her website. There is often contact information listed on the website, or information regarding permission to use their music. Try the “Contact Us” or “FAQ” links.
- Draft a permission letter. Here is a sample permission letter .
- Once finalized, email, fax or mail your letter to the publisher and/or record label per their request. If they have not responded within ten (10) days, contact them again. If your timeline is more urgent, feel free to follow up more frequently but please maintain courtesy and professionalism. You may contact the Copyright Licensing Office for more help or if you have questions about this process. When contacting copyright owners, please be courteous at all times and remember that you are representing BYU.
- Once permission is obtained, please keep one (1) copy of the permission letter for your records.
- If the publisher denies you permission or is unresponsive, you may contact the Copyright Licensing Office for help.
Sample Permission Letter
• Consider using fewer songs in your production. The fewer the titles, the fewer the clearances needed.
• Consider commissioning an original composition.
• YouTube, DVDs, Broadcast, or other distribution with copyrighted music all require permission and possible fees.
• Omnimusic.com is an online source of royalty-free music available for use by students (Internet rights and production of up to 1,000 non-commercial DVDs is included under this license).
• Zoe Keating, Sigur Ros and Wintergatan are examples of artists who have graciously offered their music to be used for free as long as the purpose is non-commercial and their name and website are credited in the program. Look for these kinds of artists when wanting to use them in productions.
• Public Domain – if the music was published prior to 1923 in the United States or 70 years or later after the composer’s death, it is in the “public domain” and you do not need permission to use the song. Feel free to double check with the Copyright Licensing Office to ensure whether or not a piece is in fact in the public domain.
Obtaining permission to publicly show a motion picture on campus
Please check out our “Movies” page and then fill out the following google form to submit a request to the Copyright Licensing Office.
Obtaining permission on your own
Permission should be received from the copyright owner or their representative and obtained in writing. Keep a copy of all permissions received and any related correspondence. Requests for permissions should include the following information:
- Your name, address, telephone number, email and fax number.
- Your title/position and name of your publisher, university or other entity.
- The date of your request.
- A complete and accurate source citation of the material you are requesting permission to use.
- A precise description of the proposed use of the copyrighted material as well as when and for how long the material will be used.
- A signature line for the copyright owner including their title if they are representing a company and the date.
The Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University provides the following resources for seeking permission.
- Finding the Owner
- Collective Licensing Agencies
- Requesting Permission
- Model Forms
- If You Cannot Find the Owner
Licensing and Rights Organizations
- American Society of Media Photographers
- Artists Rights Society (ARS)
- BYU Licensing and Trademarks
- Collective Licensing Agencies
- Copyright Clearance Center
- Harry Fox Agency, Inc.
- Literary Estates and Permissions
- Media Image Resource Alliance (MIRA)
- Motion Picture Licensing Corporation
- Photographers Registry–Professional Photographers of America (PPA)
- Picture Licensing Universal System (PLUS)
- VAGA, Artist’s Copyrights-Art Copyirght Clearance
- WATCH-Writers Artists and Their Copyright Holders
Research Guide: Obtaining Copyright Permissions
To request permission for use of Church copyrighted material or trademarks, please follow this link:
Note: The approximate time frame for receiving a reply is 45 days. Requests involving considerable quantities of material may take longer.
For further assistance or information regarding Church trademarks and copyrighted materials, you may contact the Church’s Intellectual Property Office at:
Phone: 801-240-3959 or 1-800-453-3860, ext. 2-3959