About Sheet Music
Some basic facts you should know about the sheet
music in the Library of Congress collections:
The Library of Congress cannot provide a reproduction of any
item that is protected by copyright, including out-of-print music,
without written permission from the current copyright owner.
Many songs can be found in anthologies widely available for purchase either
online or through your local music store. We suggest our patrons try this avenue
whenever possible, because it is faster and less expensive than trying to obtain
these materials from the Library of Congress. The music publishers listed below
offer many of these anthologies for reasonable prices; they are indexed (along
with other smaller publishers) in a publication titled Musi*key The
Reference Guide of Note, which is available in some large public and academic
libraries. However, most of the larger music publishers now have an online
site as well, as do many larger music stores.
The Music Division has several million pieces of published sheet
music, and most of it is not fully cataloged. Most of this material
cannot be found in the Library
of Congress Online Catalog. However, the Music Division Reader
Services staff are experienced in searching for these materials,
and will be happy to respond to a written request for assistance.
Most sheet music (secular and sacred) published after 1922 is
protected by copyright. It is useful to consult the following chart for
more information about terms of copyright protection.
Beginning in 1978, a creator of a musical work could submit a
phonorecord instead of paper copy; thus, the Library of Congress
has no "sheet music" for many works deposited for copyright
after 1977. Since 1978, the Copyright
Office has maintained registration
and renewal information online.
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