Arranging and sampling works

Arranging an existing piece of music

If you want to arrange a piece of music that you don’t own, you need permission from the rights holder. This includes any changes to the melody, harmony, rhythm or instrumentation.

You can check who owns the music on our database. Once you have permission, you can arrange the work.

Arranging folk and traditional music

Copyright law states that if you write down a traditional song, this transcription becomes a copyright work. The copyright lies in the transcription and not in the traditional song.

This means the transcription is copyright. It may not be copied, reproduced, published, publicly performed or adapted unless permission is obtained from the transcriber. However, this does not prevent people from transcribing from the same source. By doing this they create their own copyright - even if their transcription is note for note the same as an existing transcription. 

Sampling music

If you use an excerpt from an existing piece of music, you need permission from its rightsholders, no matter how small the sample. You can find rightsholder details on the works database. 

If you want to sample a piece of music and receive royalties, you’ll need to:

  • have permission from the rightsholder(s) for the sample you want to use
  • agree the share of the royalties for the rightholder(s) of the work you're using
  • register your work 
  • include the rightsholder(s) names and their agreed share when you register
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