I want to make a website hosting a large collection of sheet music from many different artists to be viewed online, but I have no idea how to go about getting permissions to do this. If I had to take the time to manually track down the information for every single artist, somehow contact them, and arrange something for each song... well, I'm sure you can guess that wouldn't be possible.

I've seen other sites (e.g. https://www.musicnotes.com) that offer a large amount of sheet music for sale; presumably, they have not contacted every artist individually. So there must be some organization responsible for managing music copyrights, that is able to make bulk arrangements. Who are they, and how do I find them?

1 Answer 1


The bad news is that it may not be possible. Copyright protection is automatic when a work is created. In the US, a protected work "generally" has to be registered before one can file an infringement suit, but it's not hard to do. You can't be sued until it is. Even if you have the name of the copyright claimant, that doesn't mean that you'll be able to locate them. The copyright office has an online interface which, if working, could tell you who claims the copyright for works after 1978, and you might get an address (they don't always provide claimant addresses, and people move).

  • So then, how does musicnotes do it? Their sheet music all says "reproduced with permission" on it, but they have way too much music there to have gotten permission for all of it - how did they do it?
    – Benubird
    Jul 25, 2016 at 9:11
  • Because they are publishers of sheet music and have been approached by the artist or their agent most likely. Exactly the same way that books are published "with permission"
    – Dale M
    Jul 25, 2016 at 13:46
  • @Benubird: They work directly with the publishers. On their "About" page, they say that they have music from "publishers like Alfred Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Disney Music Publishing, BMG, Bourne Music, EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing, Schott Music, Brentwood-Benson, Peermusic Publishing, World Music, Shapiro Bernstein, ICG, The Loving Company, Manna Music, Spirit Music, Faber Music LTD and EMI Christian Music Publishing" (and presumably more.) Jul 25, 2016 at 13:46

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