MLA (Music Library Association)

Statement on the Digital Transmission of Electronic Reserves

Music educators cannot effectively teach the structure of a musical work without providing aural access to the complete work. Attempting to comprehend an entire musical composition through excerpts, or even sections, is no more effective than attempting to comprehend a novel, architectural plan, poem, or painting in the same manner. At best, only a sense of style is conveyed, not compositional structure. Additionally, educators who teach the history, culture, theory, composition, or performance of music require the flexibility to select the compositions they teach based on educational relevance and instructional objectives. Recognition of the appropriateness of providing such flexibility in instruction is expressed within Section 110 of the copyright law, which states:

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:

(1) performance or display 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, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made;

The American Library Association's "Model Policy Concerning College and University Photocopying for Classroom, Research and Library Reserve Use" (C&RL News (April 1982): 127-131), as drafted by Mary Hutchins, states the view that the library reserve room may be considered an extension of the classroom. The Music Library Association fully supports this view as well as the consequent view that students enrolled in a
class have the educational right to aurally access its assigned musical works both in the classroom and through class reserves. The MLA also believes that the dubbing or digital copying of musical works for class reserves falls within the spirit of the fair use provision of the copyright law.

In light of the above, the Music Library Association supports the creation and transmission of digital audio file copies of copyrighted recordings of musical works for course reserves purposes, under the following conditions:

  • Access to such digital copies must be through library-controlled equipment and campus-restricted networks.
  • Access to digital copies from outside of the campus should be limited to individuals who have been authenticated: namely, students enrolled either in a course or in formal independent study with an instructor in the institution.
  • Digital copies should be made only of works that are being taught in the course or study.
  • Digital copies may be made of whole movements or whole works.
  • Either the institution or the course instructor should own the original that is used to make the digital file. The Library should make a good faith effort to purchase a commercially available copy of anything that is provided by the instructor.
  • The library should remove access to the files at the completion of the course.
  • The library may store course files for future re-use. This includes the digital copy made from an instructor's original if the library has made a good faith effort to purchase its own copy commercially.

See also:  Access & Technology Program/Electronic Reserves, a new statement for the library association members of the Shared legal Capability (ALA, AALL, ARL, MLA, and SLA).


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