A mark of a civilised community is the recognition of the concept of copyright, says the Music Publishers Association, and they have published a code of practice explaining when the use of the photocopier is fair, and when it is an abuse of the rights of creative people. It covers copying music of band and chorus parts, copying for private study and research, and for teaching and examination purposes. Download
For those of us asked to play Happy Birthday to You on a regular basis – and vaguely wondering each time about the copyright issues – there’s a comforting lawsuit (that’s a rarity) going through the US courts. See this article in the New York Times. And here’s more detail of the lawsuit and the evidence stacked against Warner/Chappell, from BoingBoing.net
Want to know if music is public domain? Here’s a useful guide from the IMSLP Petrucci Library which defines what exactly qualifies as public domain* music in Canada, the US, the EU, and China, Korea, Japan and South Africa. * ie no longer protected by copyright and can be freely distributed.