Yes. This has always been the case since NATS auditions began with any policies regarding auditions. Just as each chapter/district/region has guidelines which they expect to be enforced regarding their auditions at the local level, the national guidelines establish an overall framework to ensure all auditions are conducted within an agreed upon framework that also recognizes and allows some room for customization of auditions based on local practice. For example the committee vigorously talked about a standardized scoring process and standardized repertoire and divisions but quickly recognized that these items would take much longer to implement and need a lot of discussion. Instead they opted for listing best practices in these areas. With copyright we are dealing with LEGAL issues so the policy must be consistent.
A. If so, what suggestions have been made as far as who is to do this?
It is up to each group to determine the best manner to do this. Some groups have already been doing this for a long time.
B. What suggestions does National NATS have for monitoring this and enforcing it at the different levels of students auditions (Chapter, District, Region, State)?
Examples of current practice include:
- Checking for legal copies at the student check-in--recommended
- Checking for legal copies at the time of audition--not recommended due to potential problems with keeping the audition times running smoothly. It also allows too much diverse input from judges as to what is allowed increasing the likelihood of errors.
- Honor code: A lot of education on the front end followed by reporting suspected violation when noticed by judges in the audition room as specified in the new guidelines under reporting copyright violations.
Unless you want to get into the habit of also verifying correct repertoire during check-in, (which I would not want to do in large auditions if it was me) quickly verifying the legal copies for at least 95% of singers should take no more than 30 seconds each if everyone is prepared during the check in process. This can easily be done by the student assistants staffing the check in tables and having the singer present the legal copies for review. If anything other than traditional published scores are presented, send them to a separate table where there are 2-3 teacher volunteers assigned to verify the scores.
C. The large number of participants for our Chapter, State, and most especially Regional Auditions, is cause for concern. The largest number for Texoma Auditions was in the 700’s; the mechanics of enforcing any strict policy on site are overwhelming.
Everyone has their challenges. With more students come more teachers to serve in various capacities. Texoma is fortunate to have a large number of teachers. There are some chapters that have hundreds of singers in auditions but a relatively small membership. These are the ones that are going to have to plan even more carefully.
A. Would it be possible for someone to sue NATS if having been disqualified, when the ‘copy’ being used was actually a legal document?
Although there have been mistakes made in the past, NATS has never been sued, EVER. It is much more likely that NATS would be sued if there were NO strict guidelines than if there were. This policy is actually anticipated to reduce the number of judging errors made while also protecting the organization.
B. Because the copyright law is complex, there are many misunderstandings of fair use. Do we disqualify a student the day of audition for what the judges believe to be an infraction?
Fair use really does not apply to NATS auditions. Most people, who hide behind fair use to justify copying unlawfully, claim it is for educational classroom purposes. This is not a justifiable claim according to the fair use statutes.
C. It is this "gray" area of older repertoire, newer internet downloads, or unpublished pieces that would be hard for any judge to simply resolve without longer research than is possible on site.
In the end it is someone's responsibility to "make the call" based on the best research available at the time. With wireless internet freely available is likely that without much of a delay an educated answer can be found rather quickly. The other side of the coin is to ask, "Out of the millions of songs out there, why would a teacher assign a piece of music that they were not sure about?" Effective education of members regarding repertoire selection can reduce problems as well.
D. Any rule or policy without penalty is moot. On the other hand, any penalties arbitrarily levied against teachers or students are subject to litigation if they are incorrect.
Please see my answer to 2A. In addition, the term arbitrary is important. Having a review process would never be termed arbitrary.
A. Any policy statement MUST allow any legal photocopy.
Actually it does not have to. We could choose not to allow ANY photocopies at all which was discussed. NATS has the right to set the guidelines for its auditions and determine what will and will not be allowed. Any event similar to ours can establish more stringent requirements than the law allows but they cannot establish any requirement that is less stringent than the law allows.
The only way to determine substantially that a copy is legal is for there to be attached documentation in the form of a permission page, letter, or specific copyright assignment on the music itself. It would be easiest simply to not allow these; however, the committee has tried to address some of these possibilities. I can assure you however that ALL of them will not be addressed as technology changes too fast and there is a new shop opening up every day on the internet. It is most likely that we will add a few reliable sources to an approved list for exceptions and exclude others until a future revision of the policy. Another option would be to revise annually to include changes from year to year. Unfortunately, such a change makes it more difficult to communicate to the general membership and we would like to avoid that if at all possible.
If you have a list of sites you would like us to consider and review, please send them to me as soon as possible.
B. There are on-line, legal sources which do not provide any kind of statement.
I have written to several chapters and regions that have inquired regarding this, we are currently not accepting music from online sources that do not provide a statement ensuring the legality of content. Currently, you are more likely to find the opposite statement on sites. These statements are there because they are often relying on a network of volunteers to post music to these sites. In other words, like the mp3 sharing sites that have been determined to be illegal in the past, the attempt to "share" has moved into the realm of printed music. Even though a majority of the content is likely legal on some of these sites, we believe that we should not take a chance on this when there are a variety of reliable, fully legal options available to all.
C. There are published titles from before c. 1920 which are not recognized by the publisher, and the publisher is unwilling to give permission to copy.
Why take a chance? There are millions of songs in print.
D. Some new compositions exist ONLY in computer–printed copies. In today’s volatile publishing world there are daily take-overs by one company of another. Titles are often dropped or misplaced in these trades.
Don't take a chance if there is not some way to verify it is legal.
Since the inception of NATS audition guidelines they have been widely disseminated through regional governors to chapter presidents and are now readily available and downloadable on the nats.org website for chapter presidents and regional governors using their access. It is up to the chapter/district/region to provide adequate notice of the policies governing their specific auditions to members. EVERYONE sends out the repertoire guidelines and registration materials prior to auditions. I suggest that this is the right time to also educate members on the other policies governing auditions and urge them to avoid potential problems by avoiding material that might be seen as questionable based on the guidelines. Excellent communication on the front end always reduces problems down the line. Notice I did not say eliminates. There will always be problems, but those in charge are always able to state a more defensible position if they can prove they have communicated well, often, and clearly.
We have had a number of sessions at national conferences on these issues and had two leadership summit sessions at the Nashville Conference. We will continue this in Salt Lake City and I encourage EVERY chapter to have a representative there. More info is forthcoming soon on these sessions. I am ALWAYS happy to be asked to present at regional/Chapter conferences or workshops, regarding these issues, or in master class/judging/topical presentations.
We have promoted the policy in mass emails to the membership.
Therefore, I would say that the information is indeed coming generally from the organization at this point. The copyright policy is on the publicly accessible portion of our site on the "student auditions" page. I am certainly open to any suggestions for making the information more accessible.
That is correct. In research it was determined that the ONLY legal use would be up to 10% of a single composition to facilitate page turns. The lack of enforceability of this led the committee to determine NO copies at all would be allowed. I am sure no one want to be counting measures. It was also added that with the number of students and others readily available, suitable page turners are always available.
Of course. It never looks good for a student to be disqualified. One would assume that a teacher would be ensuring that guidelines are followed. It would be nice if we had no need for such policies. NATS has stated such in the guidelines and continues to encourage this behavior in various JOS articles, etc.
Thank you so very much for your time, Allen. We are very aware of the amount of time the National Copyright Committee must be spending on this issue, and are grateful that our thoughts and concerns will be considered.
In summary, the committee appointed by President McCoy worked diligently to review as many scenarios as possible. Inevitably, there is always a scenario presented that doesn't fit the policy. Currently, we are handling these through communication with me at the national office. This office is charged with implementation and interpretation of policies enacted by the Board.
Change is hard! The changes in policy are made in good faith by the Board to improve the audition process, address often cited problems, ensure that our activities are conducted lawfully, and produce events that are as beneficial to all participants as possible.
I hope these answers will help you as you seek solutions in your region. These questions have given me the basis for a good FAQ which we should probably create and place on our website. This might further help everyone.
As always, do not hesitate to call or email with further items of concern or for discussion. I consider student auditions a VITAL service NATS provides students and we want to continue to raise the value of these auditions.
Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and thankful myself for your concern for NATS to thoughtfully consider the impact our organization has on our students and colleagues.