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For information on how the copyright laws are interpreted in the
United States of America

see Teaching Theatre : - Who owns the rights?

I would recommend that readers in the UK take a glance at some of the materials that have been added to those elsewhere in these pages, especially the question of the licensing of music for uses that do not necessarily fall within either the "grand" rights licensed by agencies like Samuel French, Tams-Witmark and Josef Weinberger, or the "small" rights covered by a general license on the hall from ASCAP/BMI/SESAC in the US or the Performing Right Society Limited in the UK. (It comes as a surprise to many that there are uses that do not fall within one or the other. It also comes as a surprise to many others that there are such things as "grand" and "small" rights.) Examples of these uses include performing Irving Berlin's "Always" (as specified by Noël Coward in the script) in a production of Blithe Spirit, or a project like Kenneth Branagh's film of Love's Labour's Lost, in which the director/adapter has recast Shakespeare's comedy as a 1930s musical (featuring Nathan Lane) with a score drawn from Berlin, Kern, Porter and Gershwin. Such uses are licensed directly from the publisher who owns the copyright on the individual composition.

In the US, the Harry Fox Agency acts as licensing representative for the members of the National Music Publishers Association. The NMPA Website at www.nmpa.org now has both a searchable database of song titles linked to publisher and a set of licensing application forms that can be downloaded, printed out and mailed to HFA.