How do we handle copyright issues at Arranger for Hire?
We are a bespoke exclusive custom arranging service.
We observe copyright law.
We are not “publishers” – we do not resell any arrangement we write for a client, and we respect a client’s desire for exclusive use of an arrangement we create; we don’t have a “catalog.” Also, we don’t put copyrighted material on our website without license or specific permission. (We’re happy to provide our arranging “reel” on request, via email.)
Getting The Proper License For Your Commissioned Arrangement
We can assist our customers in obtaining “Permission to Arrange”. We pass the fee through to our customers along with a $50 administration fee for the service. Permission Fees range from $50 to several hundred dollars, depending on variables such as the nature of intended performance, who the licensee is (“educational” is cheaper), our arranging fee, and other factors.
When Do You Need to License an Arrangement?
- If you wrote the song, you don’t need a license!
- If somebody else wrote it, no specific permission is required to write an arrangement, nor to record it.
- Releasing the recording requires a “Mechanical License,” obtainable through Harry Fox, Inc.
- Playing any copyrighted material in a commercial venue requires a “Performance License,” paid by the venue, covered by their licenses with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or the local publishing rights organization (“PRO”), varying by country.
“Permission to Arrange” License
Performing from a new sheet music arrangement in public requires a specific license in the form of “Permission to Arrange.” The permission language needs to appear in the footer of the title page of every sheet music part that’s on a stand in a public place for performance.
Permissions to Arrange can be obtained from Hal Leonard, Inc or Trésona and take up to six weeks to obtain (Trésona is faster, but more expensive). Prices vary, ranging from $50 up, depending on the purpose, size of ensemble, arranging fee, and other factors.
Enforcement is more likely to occur in certain environments, but rare in the general case. Copyright holders or their agents have to catch you in the act of violation with unlicensed sheet music on the stands.
It can be financially ruinous if they get you.
If your performance is in a private venue (such as a wedding), enforcement is unlikely. If your performance is in a public venue but your intended use of the title has not been publicized in advance, enforcement is unlikely.
If you’re performing at a festival or competition, or have publicized your intended use of the title, or list your repertoire on a website, enforcement is likely.
Permission to Arrange License Enforcement Scenarios
Representatives from Tresóna Inc (a loose partner of Hal Leonard, Inc, the giant print publishers) attend events like marching band or show choir competitions (where there are likely to be a lot of custom arrangements performed by ensembles representing institutions). They might also be at college jazz festivals or other major public events. They look at the music on the stands to check for licensing language in the footer of the parts. If there is none, they sue, for many thousands of dollars, naming the ensemble, school administration, or anybody else connected who is likely to have money and vulnerable assets. They may also be doing title searches on the internet for possible enforcement candidates.
Tresóna also sells licenses in the form of “Permission to Arrange” – but they are more expensive than those sold by Hal Leonard.
Mechanical License vs Permission to Arrange
It you plan to post videos of your wedding on YouTube, you’re at slight risk for copyright enforcement of your required Mechanical License. YouTube tries to get copyright holders paid for performance by sharing ad revenue with them – if the video is monetized. Otherwise, the video is subject to a takedown notice. We are not aware of any arrangement copyright enforcement triggered by YouTube use; under copyright law, a Mechanical License would be required (get a “streaming license” through Harry Fox Inc. for maximum legal protection).
Here’s an excellent article on Legal Zoom by Jennifer Mueller that explains details of musical copyright, clearly and authoritatively.
A New, Faster, Less Expensive Alternative for Licensing Arrangements
Hal Leonard has entered into agreements with Sheet Music Plus and NoteFlite enabling these services to publish licensed arrangements for sale without an advance licensing fee, instead deducting the fee as a percentage of the purchase price.
In many circumstances, it’s faster and cheaper for us to publish your desired arrangement on Sheet Music Plus (vs NoteFlite, which is an online scoring platform), and then afterward have you purchase the arrangement from the Sheet Music Plus, which will then have the required Permission to Arrange personalized to your organization in the footer of every part and score.
The disadvantage of this method is the arrangement is no longer exclusive to your organization. Arrangements can not be removed from Sheet Music Plus, when somebody else is the copyright holder.
If you want to maintain exclusivity, let’s apply to obtain your exclusive Permission to Arrange directly from Hal Leonard Inc. or Trésona.