Request files for American Legion


New member
I am the historian at our local American Legion Post (280 East Pasadena, CA). Over the course of the pandemic we lost our Commander, Adjutant and Finance Officer. Since we are opening up, we are planning a combined memorial ceremony celebrating the lives of all three.

The planners of the ceremony suggested that play the "American Legion March" as we bring in the colors.

Further into the ceremony they want to play a medley of "Anchors Aweigh" for our Commander, "The Army Goes Rolling Along" for the Adjutant, and "Marines' Hymn" for our Finance Officer. They wanted a medley of the three because playing all three songs in addition to everything else puts us way over time.

I'd like to know how I might be able to get the two sound files (the March and the medley) that would not be subject to some sort of copyright violation. Thoughts?

Derek Bell
Captain (ret.), USAR
I don't what system you need to use in the the US, but I expect there are parallels with what happens elsewhere.

In Australia we would go through APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) and lodge an application to use the material. APRA would then determine a fee and give approval.

It ought to be a fairly straightforward process
Unless the only music played at your American Legion is via a commercial Juke Box (which license is provided by the vending machine company) the venue already likely has a public performance license via ASCAP and BMI. Around here, such spaces are rented out for public events which have DJ's or bands. It is the venue that provides the performance license. This is the joke about complaints of politicians playing various music at their political events. The campaigns are not required to license music because it is played in a space already covered by a public performance license. Any broadcast is covered as news and public interest.

There are other licenses such as mechanical. This applies to using music with video in a movie or commercial for instance. What you are doing is simply public performance. As to copyrights, it's kind of complicated. There are so many technical violations of federal statue that it's damn near impossible to not be in violation of something. That said for a one off, buy the music and get someone to create the melody. I have a good friend who specializes in music for dancers and gymnasts. He does editing magic to make the music fit the choreography. His work is covered by the performance license of the venues where his finished product gets played. A lot of leeway is given in public performance as to the altering of the music. DJ's alter and mix up music all the time. You don't hear of ASCAP or BMI going after amateur sports venues or DJ's or even bands doing terrible covers. They are not going to care about your one off event either.

If you purchase the music, you should be fine.
I agree with Folkcafe buy the tunes off of iTunes or Amazon and stream them from an iphone to the PA system.. It's a public ceremony for a good cause nobody is going to turn you into the copyright police for something like this.

I happen to be performing at the American Legion post #289 in Riverside California with the Brent Payne band tomorrow for a Posthumous Purple Heart Ceremony for WWII Veteran Rudolf Culjak who was in the Battle of Peleliu .
A memorial service could be considered a religious event in which case all that is fair use. Not to mention the music may be public domain at this point.