Frequently asked questions

Please note that the following information on copyright is intended as a guide only. The information is not a comprehensive statement of the law and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

The licence covers the school’s premises for extracurricular use of music.

The extracurricular use of music can be split into two main areas:

Featured Musical Events
including, but not limited to, concerts, musical recitals, and student discos

Unlimited Use of Background Music
including, but not limited to, fêtes, telephone music on hold, dance or aerobic classes, radios, stereos or jukeboxes in pupil or staff common rooms, or perhaps in a canteen where music is played

The Licence also covers use by the school’s Parent Teacher Association, who may put on a function (within the licensed premises) that uses music – dinner dances or discos, for example. It does NOT, however, cover the premises for musical or theatrical presentations organised by third party promoters.

The arrangement we have with most Local Authorities is to write to the schools in their area and ask them if they require a licence. We then bill the Local Authority centrally for the schools that requested inclusion.

To find out whether your Local Authority pays for your PRS for Music Licence, please contact us.

Both licences are required for playing pre-recorded music. The PRS for Music exists to protect the music composer’s rights and collect royalties on their behalf, whereas the PPL is the collecting society for the performers and record companies such as Sony and EMI for example, who actually make the CD or tape.

PRS for Music Licence also covers live performances.

For more information, see the Phonographic Performance Ltd website. CEFM are also the collection agent for PPL as well as PRS for Music in the UK schools sector.

If the composer, writer, arranger or editor of the music is still alive or died within the last 70 years the music will still be in copyright.

If the author of the words is still alive or died within the last 70 years then the words will still be in copyright.

If the edition was printed within the last 25 years then the edition is still in copyright.

The PRS for Music Licence is required for any incidental music contained within a film’s soundtrack. It DOES NOT however convey the right to show the film itself. Many film distributors will allow this activity under their Public Video Screening Licence.

Just because music use happens in the school day does not necessarily make this a curricular usage. For example; playing some background music during a maths class is not required by the maths curriculum and therefore not exempt from copyright law.

There is no differentiation in copyright law if a charge is made or not. It is simply the fact that a composer’s piece of music is being used and therefore a PRS for Music Licence is required.

Parents are not exempted under copyright law just because their child attends the school and are therefore considered to be members of the public. This is defined in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act section 34 subsection 3.

School Assemblies are deemed to be part of the curriculum and so do not require a PRS for Music Licence.

However, if visitors (parents, for example) are present during an assembly, then it is deemed to be a public performance and your school will therefore require a PRS for Music Licence.

Any theatrical production, concert or event that portrays a story is regarded as a dramatic presentation. This can be done through using dramatic action, costume, scenery or narrative, for example musicals, compilation shows, plays, operas and ballets. These types of production are not covered by the PRS for Music Licence. Instead, the rights are controlled by the copyright owner. This is known as a Grand Right, and is where the owner or administrator of that production controls the right to perform it. You will have to negotiate a fee directly with them to perform their work.

The Music Publishers Association (MPA) should be able to help you determine a production’s copyright owner. The MPA is in no way connected with the Centre for Education & Finance Management. Visit the MPA website »..

This can be a complicated area depending on the form the ‘nativity play’ takes. Please contact us to discuss your individual requirements.

Rather like a nativity play, each school’s format for a performance will be different and whether you require a PRS for Music Licence in this case will depend upon a number of factors. Please contact us to discuss your individual requirements.

No. Off-site performances are not included as the licence covers the school premises not the organisation.

The venue must hold a PRS for Music Licence if one is required.

The licence from the ERA (Educational Recording Agency), amongst other things, allows a school to record, for educational purposes, tv and radio broadcasts. The ERA Licence also covers access to, and use of, a number of on-demand services (where the terms and conditions link with ERA Licences).

CEFM provide an advisory service linked to application of the copyright licensing scheme operated by ERA.

CEFM also acts as agent for ERA for the issue of ERA Licences to schools in England, Wales and Scotland.

ERA Licences are linked to non-commercial educational use of the broadcast output of ERA members.

For more information, see our ERA section or the ERA website.