What are the copyright laws regarding photocopying song words for choir members?

Hi Izzy,

Presuming that the song words are in copyright (and not public domain), fundamentally, you can't use photocopies to avoid buying copies from the copyright owner.

However, there may be situations in which making copies is acceptable, e.g.: 

  • You have bought copies, but wish to provide photocopies for singers to write notes on to avoid marking the originals
  • You have bought copies, but need to create a larger-print version by photocopy to allow a visually impaired singer to use
  • You have bought copies, but a particular part has a difficult page turn, and you want to photocopy the single page after the turn for ease of performance

You can find more examples in the Music Publishers Association's Code of Fair Practice.

I help run a community choir. We sing a mix of copyright and non-copyright material, classical and modern, and perform for a fee (with charitable donation) in community halls and buildings, and free in care homes and the like.
Is there an idiots guide to PRS before I take the plunge and phone them?

We have a pair of free introductionary video guides that cover the basics (what is PRS, how does it work, how do you know if you need to pay, how to pay):

If your group is a Making Music member we also have more detailed guidance as well as a PRS payment scheme (where you calculate and pay your dues once per year when you renew membership):