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Explaining aspects of copyright to be aware of when studying, lecturing or undertaking research. Please note that information on these pages is for guidance only: it does not constitute formal legal advice.

Licence for copying sheet music

UK Copyright law restricts copying of material published or created within the last 70 years. This includes sheet music.

City has purchased a licence that permits staff and students to:

  • Copy sheet music; complete pieces of music contained in scores can be copied (though not a substantial amount of any one complete volume).
  • Make new arrangements from sheet music that is owned by the University and held in City Library, without asking permission.

Conditions of use

Before you start copying any music, create an account on the Printed Music Licencing portal. You will be sent an email, from which you will need to activate your account.


  • Copying and arranging under the licence must only take place for educational purposes. This is work that you are doing as part of courses that you are registered on. It must not be used in any other context.
  • You cannot copy sheet music that you have purchased yourself using this licence. It only applies to scores owned by City Library.
  • You must report and label every copy you make.

Exclusions: The licence does not allow copying of any music published by the Henle or Peters music publishers.


You must report all copies made under the licence so that producers (composers and publishers) of the music can receive royalties for your copying.Shelves containing scores. Written guidance and a QR code are displayed on the top shelf to the right of the books.

Report via the Music Publishers’ Association website. You must do this at the time you are making the copy. You can do so using a smartphone or tablet, to save time bookmark the website on your device and save the login details, you can also scan the QR code located by the scores on Level 5 of the Northampton Square Library.

How to report

To report copies of music that you have made: 

  1. Log into the portal.
  2. Click 'Submit Data'.
  3. Fill in the form or submit a photo of the music you have copied. If you submit a photo of what you have copied, all the information required in the form must be visible.

Most information required is easily found, but note the following:

  • If you are reporting an arrangement you have made, tick the box at the top left of the webpage.
  • Composer/writer: When entering song writer/composer name/original arranger, be specific: e.g. ‘Johann Sebastian Bach’ or ‘J.S. Bach’ not just ‘Bach’, Ira Gershwin (song writer) and George Gershwin (composer).
  • Music Publisher: Refers to the name given in the copyright line at the bottom of the first page of music, e.g. for ©Boosey & Hawkes enter ‘Boosey & Hawkes’ (bottom of the first page of music). This may not be the same as Print Publisher, which is the publisher of the volume of music, entered lower down the form. (For example, a volume of songs may be published by a publisher, but individual songs within it may belong to other publishers. That publisher should be at the bottom of the first page of each song.) 
  • The  International Standard Book Number (ISBN) or International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is normally on the back cover above the barcode on the bottom right-hand side. ISBNs start with 978, ISMNs start with 979. Scores will have one or the other.
  • Reporting time period for when you have made/used copies: this is at the bottom of the reporting webpage and must be 1 September to 31 August of the academic year that we are in.
  • There is space to add comments if you feel any explanation is necessary.


You must label all copies made under the licence to prove that the copy has been made legally if asked.

A label must be put on every copy and arrangement made, including by students. Fill in the date and course code in the spaces, and stick the label to the copies of each piece of music you have made.

Please note that this is a trial licence and may not be available in the future. Consistent and accurate reporting of copies you have made is important and may help to ensure availability of the licence, although there is no guarantee of this.

Another approach to copying: Copyright law allows you to copy insubstantial amounts of sheet music for personal use, education and research. You must not copy any more than you feel would be fair to the creator without purchasing the music. See the explanation of fair dealing in City’s Copyright Guide.