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I would like to build some educational material that would incorporate music.

Is it possible to include short sections of musical works without violating copyright? How much of the song would be "too much"?

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Probably not. Bare "educational purposes" is not a factor that weighs in favor of fair use – it has to be non-profit (not in a for-profit web-page or publication). There being a real marked for licensing music rights, circumventing (paid) permission on the grounds that it's "fair use" would have a non-trivial effect on market. If you just rip a CD and put a piece of it on a web page or copy from sheet music, you fail the transformativeness test. It's not clear what amount is "substantial" copying in music, but possibly on the order of 10 seconds worth. There is a short music case summary here, and you can check the copyright office's case law index here. Most likely, you would need to hire an attorney to study the specific circumstances.

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  • I'm not opposed to paying licensing fees. If there is indeed a market, then there should be some sort of marketplace where this can be purchased? In a previous post I asked a similar question (law.stackexchange.com/questions/23716/…) but didn't get much to work with. How would I go about purchasing the legal right to use short sections (5-30 seconds) of songs in online instructional material? – pixelearth Dec 1 '17 at 22:25
  • After speaking with others about this it seems there isn't a central marketplace for this type of thing, but may have to be negotiated on per-song basis (not something that seems viable, unless I were myself an attorney). – pixelearth Dec 1 '17 at 22:26

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