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What is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and How Does it Pertain to Sheet Music?


Important Note: We are not lawyers, and this website does not provide legal advice. The purpose of this article is to provide a general guide, written by non-lawyers, attempting to answer some common basic questions about Public Domain Sheet Music. For legal advice you must consult your attorney.

When either writing or using sheet music, it is important to understand the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and how it relates to the use of sheet music, especially online.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (also known as the DMCA) was created in 1998 and was intended to update copyright laws based on the technological advances that were occurring.


The DMCA makes it illegal to use technology to assist in breaking copyright laws.  It also makes the consequences of copyright infringement more severe (especially online).  What this really means for you, is that you need to be careful when downloading free sheet music (or even subscription sheet music) online, since you will be held liable, regardless of what the website or internet provider states.  If that sheet music is copyrighted, then the same laws are in effect for it, whether you found it available online or not.


Regardless of what the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or any other copyright law, for that matter) are stating, if you want to fully understand how these laws apply to your original work or to a piece of free sheet music that you are wanting to use, the best thing you can do is to contact an attorney to make sure you have all of your information correct.  Your attorney can help you navigate your way through these laws to avoid lawsuits and possible copyright infringement.