I used a scorewriter to notate a musical piece. I did so by ear and I do not own the original sheet music. (If it makes any difference: I wasn't able to find the sheet music for sale anywhere online)

Would it be legal to publish it on a site like www.jellynote.com?

To be clear: I do not intend to make any profit from it. I just want to share my work with other people.

I would be especially interested in German Law. (And maybe US-Law since it will probably be uploaded to a server located in the US. Although I don't know if that's relevant)

1 Answer 1


Copyright in musical works extends to the composition itself, not just to the sheet music (as you notice, there may not even be any sheet music). If the musical work is protected by copyright then publishing a transcription of that work would be a potential violation of the copyright, subject to exceptions such as and fair dealing.

If the piece is in the public domain, then you can publish your transcription.

  • thank you for your answer! Makes totally sense for me (that's why I've been asking in the first place) But why are there so many copyrighted pieces on jellynote available then? Are they all copyright infringements then? (or can you get a permission to publish scores?)
    – itaton
    Jul 14, 2016 at 14:09
  • @user3615472 actually they could be covered by fair use or similar exceptions, in which case they would not be violations. I have edited the answer to mention this. More likely, they are violations but the copyright owner does not know about the violation or has decided that pursuing the violation is not worth the effort.
    – phoog
    Jul 14, 2016 at 14:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .