storing, screens and sharing

irrational laws and other restrictions

Governments and publishers impose restrictions on how copyright content in electronic form may be stored and displayed.

Many of those restrictions are irrational and inconsistent.

Some forbid using more than one screen to display copyright content unless a separate copy is bought for each screen.

Some forbid using file storage, synchronisation and sharing services to help access, manage and share copyright content.

Some forbid keeping backup copies of it.

Such restrictions mean that if you have two or more screen gadgets that you use at various places and times:

you need to choose which one you will use to store and display each such file;

and you must never store or display it on any of the others unless you have bought an extra copy for every other one you store or display it on.

Some simply forbid any electronic storage of copyright content.

Such restrictions also mean that if you use a file backup you need to remember to exclude such files, and risk losing them, or you’re breaking the law.

And, if you lose some of the download files that you bought, apart from needing to download them again you would need to remember which ones you had.

Or go back through related purchase emails to check – and you can’t do that if your emails are also lost.

You would think that people who sell copyright content as download files would be more rational about these things, but some explicitly forbid them too.

we see things differently

A paper copy that you take somewhere is more likely to lead to illegal theft and copying by someone else than a file stored or accessed in a secured password protected computer or small screen gadget.

And even keeping paper copies at home can be a security risk.

They can be kept in locked cabinets and taken out for use only as needed, but that’s much more inconvenient than simply locking an electronic screen gadget and entering a password to unlock it when you need to use it.

If we can trust you not to make and use any more paper copies than you have copy licences for then we can trust you to do the right thing with your electronic files.

local storage and backup

We have no objection to you copying and saving any score file that you bought from us into as many computing and other electronic storage gadgets as you like, provided that:

all the original filename remains;

all the original content remains (other than in sections which the score explicitly states may be altered), including the purchaser stamp;

every such gadget is either your property or provided for your exclusive use;

every one of them is securely password protected with a password that only you know;

none of them is ever left unsecured when unattended by you;

no other person or entity has access to any of their content.

The same applies to any new file you create by copying a score file you bought from us and replacing some of its content as explicitly permitted for that score. We’re happy for you to store both the original and the copy.

Never store a copy of copyright content in an unsecured storage unit, such as a memory card or hard disc unit with no password.

If you download a score file on a computer that you don’t own, e.g. at work, immediately save it to something else (that’s yours and secure) then permanently delete it from the computer.

Other than where specifically permitted, no alteration may be made to content of any score bought from us.

All the information in the original filename is there for good reason.

If you make a copy of a score file and alter text content where permitted, keep all the original file name, and add the text “-altered” followed by a brief description of your alteration.

Your name and email address are permanently stamped into every PDF file that you buy from us. Ensure that your score files are secure so that they and your email address in them are not illegally taken and abused. Treat them like documents containing passwords.

remote storage and backup

We have no objection to you using remote storage and backup services to keep copies and backups of any file that you have bought from us, provided that:

all the original filename remains;

all the original content remains (other than in sections which the score explicitly states may be altered), including the purchaser stamp;

no one else other than you has access to it unless you legally provide it for a score for which you have bought multiple copies for sharing.

Files bought by or for a group or organisation may be accessed only by people who are directly involved with it.


Every score bought from us comes with two copy licences, so that the same user may:

display it on a nonpublic screen;

and make and keep one paper copy.

The paper principle: a piece of paper can not be in more than one place at one time.

We have no objection to you displaying any score file that you bought from us on as many nonpublic screens as you like, provided that no copy is ever displayed on more than one screen at the same time for use of any of its copyright content.

In that way, your use of your score file on electronic displays is consistent with the paper principle.

If you don’t need a paper copy of your score file, you may display it on two screens at the same time, for your own use. Your purchase of the file included two copy licences, so you may use the second licence for the second screen copy.

If you need to display your score file on more than two screens simultaneously, just buy as many extra copies as you need. Each extra copy you buy gets you the right to use your score file on one more screen and print one more paper copy, or use it on two more screens.

If you need some of the files to be in a format different from PDF for display, just make the conversions as needed, but preserve all the original filename (to the left of the final dot).

A copy on screen is roughly equivalent to a copy on paper.

Generic licences are available to some organisations to permit them to make multiple copies of some copyright materials without needing to buy specific copy licences. Local copyright organisations can advise on this.

sharing your score files

We have no objection to you electronically sharing any score file that you bought from us, by email, link to file sharing service or any other method, provided that:

all the original filename remains;

all the original content remains (other than in sections which the score explicitly states may be altered), including the purchaser stamp;

a separate copy has been bought from us for every recipient;

every recipient understands that the same restrictions on storage and display apply to the holders of those copies as apply to you for the original;

every recipient understands that the legal licensee of the original score file is also the legal licensee of the copies that you distribute, and that only you may share them;

the method of sharing is secure.

The same applies to any copy that you have made of a score file with alterations that you have made as permitted for that score.

Every such recipient may then use the score on screen and print and keep a paper copy, or use it on two screens simultaneously – just the same as you as the original buyer.

Remember – your score file and all the copies of it include the name and email address of you or your group. If it’s illegally distributed then that information is too.

Only one step of sharing – original buyer or licensee to other recipients.

Electronically sharing a file with someone is equivalent to sending a paper copy.

For scores for which some alteration is permitted, only the original buyer may do so.

For such scores bought on behalf of a group, only alterations approved by group management may be made.

suggested wording for sharing

We suggest that you use this text when sharing a score file with people in a group:

I’m sharing copyright content with you, as a member of [group name], in a PDF score file that I’ve bought from Laurie Williams Music.

The file has our group name and email address permanently stamped into it.

You may use it on one screen at a time, and print and use a paper copy, only for group purposes and only for the duration of those purposes.

You may store and forward it only for your own access and for that duration. You may not share it with anyone else.

Conditions of your use of the file and the paper copy are at

where you may send an unlicensed electronic copy

We have no objection to you sending an unlicensed electronic copy of a score bought from us to someone who will hold and use it:

only for a purpose other than its copyright content;

and only briefly.


a professional printer, to legally make a copy or copies;

someone who is writing program notes and needs to refer to information included in the score;

someone to distribute it on your behalf to a number of end users for whom you have sufficient copy licences.

Again, the same applies to a copy you have made of a score for the purpose of altering some of its content where explicitly permitted.

The original filename and purchaser stamp must remain.

You may not make or send an unlicensed paper copy.

Remember – your score file has your name and email address permanently stamped into it. Be careful about where you send it.

we said we see things differently

We do.

That’s what happens when rational thought is applied.

We would apply the same principles to storage and use of other copyright content in electronic form too, including text, images, movies and sound, on multiple screens and multiple players.

But that’s just us being rational again.

By doing things that we have described on this page you may be breaking your local law.

(That would be naughty.)

The choice is yours.

performing and recording

© Laurie Williams Music, Adelaide, South Australia, 2014, 2015, 2020