Brown University Copyright and Fair Use

Brown University
 Music Performance Licenses

Brown University maintains license agreements with three major performing rights societies:

ASCAP: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

BMI: Broadcast Music Inc.

SESAC: Society of European Stage Authors and Composers

In general these licenses pertain only to the performance of copyrighted music, not to its copying or distribution. Much of the language below is taken directly from the license itself but in some cases has been summarized or abridged to make it easier to understand. Also not present are the various clauses relating to payment of fees, breach of contract, etc. Common to all three licenses is the basic license and the limitations on that license. While the limitations restrict the scope of what is permitted, it does not necessarily follow that these limitations cannot either be covered by another license (such as that for the performance of a musico-dramatic work) or by thoughtful application of the provisions of Fair Use. In the text below, Brown, or Brown University has replaced the word "licensee".

Here's what these licenses allow the Brown community to do:


Basic license: ASCAP's writer and publisher members have authorized ASCAP "to license ... non-dramatic performances of their copyrighted musical compositions"

Limitations [conditions which are NOT licensed]:

  • broadcasting, telecasting or transmission to persons outside the premises ... other than by:
    • music on hold telephone systems operated by Brown University
    • Brown's internet site or service
    • Brown's intranet transmissions
    • Brown's cable television service [if we have one].
  • performance of any musical composition that is co-sponsored, co-promoted, or co-presented by Brown with any other entity engaged in the business of promoting or presenting musical attractions
  • jukebox performances [covered by compulsory license provisions of 17 U.S.C. paragraph 116]
  • dramatic performances including:
    • performance of a "dramatico-musical" work in its entirety ["dramatico-musical work" is defined here as an opera, musical, play with music, revue or ballet]
    • performance of one or more musical performances from a "dramatico-musical work"
    • performance of one or more musical compositions as part of a story or plot, whether accompanied or unaccompanied by dialogue, pantomime, dancer, stage -action or visual representation
    • performance of a "concert version" of a dramatico-musical work
  • ASCAP reserves the right to restrict the first American performance of a work in their catalog and may withdraw any work from their catalog either because it infringes on another work, or because ASCAP no longer has the right to license it.
  • copying, downloading or transferring to computer hard drive or any other storage medium an ASCAP composition.

To identify ASCAP musical compositions, go to


Basic license: "to perform or cause the public performance by live or recorded means at LICENSEE's premises [i.e. Brown University's campus and any site located off campus where college groups such as bands or choruses perform as part of their non-profit community outreach and educational activities, provided such events are not sponsored by an outside party] [Internet:] or by means of Internet Transmissions in the Territory [i.e. United States, its Commonwealth, territories and possessions] all of the musical works to which BMI shall have right to grant public performance licenses"

Among the events covered by this license are:

  • sporting events
  • socials
  • musical attractions (those presented or promoted by Brown)
  • campus radio broadcasting stations
  • student unions
  • college theater groups
  • fitness centers
  • classrooms
  • fraternities/sororities
  • fairs/festivals
  • athletic facilities
  • college orchestras
  • student bands
  • special events such as orientation or graduation

Limitations [conditions which are not licensed]:

  • televised transmission whether over-the-air, cable, satellite, except via Brown's website subject to limitations
  • dramatic rights, the right to publically perform dramatico-musical works in whole or in substantial part, the right to present individual works in a dramatic setting or the right to perform the music licensed ... in any other context which may constitute an exercise of the "grand rights."
  • jukebox performances
  • musical attractions on the premises promoted by outside promoters (any person or entity other than Brown)
  • musical attractions outside the premises except as part of community outreach and educational activities
  • performance by commercial radio stations

To determine if a work is in the BMI catalog go to and use the Repertoire search at the top of the page.


Basic license: to publicly perform by live or mechanical means, non dramatic renditions of the musical compositions in the SESAC repertory on [Brown's] campus, over "carrier-current" radio stations of [Brown], by closed circuit transmissions within the confines of the campus, or by Class "D" FM radio facilities listing effective radiated power of less than 20 watts broadcasting within the confines of the campus.

Limitations [conditions which are not licensed]:

  • right to broadcast, televise or otherwise transmit or record, film, videotape or otherwise reproduce or capture by any means, medium, method, device or process now known or hereafter known of any of the musical compositions and performances thereof licensed hereunder, nor shall [Brown] have the right to grant to others any such right.
  • the right to perform in whole or in part dramatico-musical and dramatic works in a musical setting.
  • performances that are part of a musical background service originating outside the campus .. or jukebox (coin-operated) performances.
  • SESAC reserves the right to prohibit upon written notice the performance of any musical composition ... to which any action has been instituted, or a claim made that SESAC does not have the right to license the performance rights

To determine if a work is in the SESAC catalog, go to: