Is it permissible to make digital copies of choral music that is legally owned by the institution to students in choral and instrumental ensembles? Some students may be studying remotely and mailing physical copies may result in lost or non-returned copies.
There are four ways it can be permissible:
1. Check the license from the publisher and see if the purchase of the physical copies came with any digitization/duplication permission. You'd be surprised how many rights you buy (or don't buy) when you make that hard copy purchase. Publishers take a variety of approaches on this, and an individual publisher's permissions may change from work-to-work, so confirm (or rule out) this approach for each work.
2. If the license does not allow making digital copies, contact the publisher, and see if it can be expanded. Publishers are now getting many requests like this and may be ready with a simple (and affordable) solution.
3. I am not a fan of them (they are as outdated and as risky as the Ford Pinto), but the "CONTU" guidelines speak to this issue. I am including the relevant guidelines, as presented in Copyright Office Circular 21, under this answer. If one of your precise needs fits one of the "permissible uses" listed in Circular 21, you are all set.
4. Speaking of CONTU, the first "permissible use" listed in the guidelines may help you out here, with a slight twist on your scenario. In the event that the physical copies listed in the question are mailed out and not returned as feared, the guidelines allow for emergency copying after the fact (of course, they also require that at some point, you purchase more physical copies, but at least you can get the copies to the students).
Those are my four solutions, based on conventional approaches and current case law.
I'll also throw out a "fifth option" based on a slightly different approach, which, depending on some precise facts, could work for faculty teaching choral classes:
The 110 Solution
Copyright Section 110 allows an academic choral group (if meeting as part of a class) to display "a work in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session," during an online class/rehearsal.
How can that help with the member's scenario?
If the class was still meeting physically, Copyright Section 110(a) would allow us to perform the song and to display the music on the in-class smart board. In the online environment, the same performance and display could happen via the internet, as allowed by 110(b) (the "TEACH Act")—again, so long as only the amount "typically" displayed in class was shown.
Whether in-person or online, the rehearsal would include review of the different parts for bass, tenor, alto and soprano, with the relevant music displayed on the screen. While an academic institution can't tell people to take screen shots of the music displayed for rehearsal purposes, students who want to snap screenshots of a class to take notes is a fact of modern-day academia. If a student who was told to purchase a copy of their part uses this method to ensure they are practicing on an incremental basis, that's out of the school's control, and the student can make their own claim to fair use.
This type of solution should never be used as a deliberate alternative to the purchase of individual copies. But so long as the display is incremental and truly a part of the in-class experience, it is a viable option.
I wish all music faculty approaching the Fall 2020 semester many good performances, whether virtual, or face-to-face. These are tough days for people who love to sing, who enjoy the community of a choir, and who need to hone their vocal art in collaboration with others. Hunting for music should not add to the burden, and with a few tricks and an awareness of the limits of the law, it doesn't have to.
Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music
The purpose of the following guidelines is to state the minimum and not the maximum standards of educational fair use under Section 107 of H.R. 2223.
The parties agree that the conditions determining the extent of permissible copying for educational purposes may change in the future; that certain types of copying permitted under these guidelines may not be permissible in the future, and conversely that in the future other types of copying not permitted under these guidelines may be permissible under revised guidelines.
Moreover, the following statement of guidelines is not intended to limit the types of copying permitted under the standards of fair use under judicial decision and which are stated in Section 107 of the Copyright Revision Bill. There may be instances in which copying which does not fall within the guidelines stated below may nonetheless be permitted under the criteria of fair use.
Reproduction of Copyrighted Works
1 Emergency copying to replace purchased copies which for any reason are not available for an imminent performance provided purchased replacement copies shall be substituted in due course.
2 For academic purposes other than performance, single or multiple copies of excerpts of works may be made, provided that the excerpts do not comprise a part of the whole which would constitute a performable unit such as a section¹, movement or aria, but in no case more than 10 percent of the whole work. The number of copies shall not exceed one copy per pupil.
3 Printed copies which have been purchased may be edited or simplified provided that the fundamental character of the work is not distorted or the lyrics, if any, altered or lyrics added if none exist.
4 A single copy of recordings of performances by students may be made for evaluation or rehearsal purposes and may be retained by the educational institution or individual teacher.
5 A single copy of a sound recording (such as a tape, disc, or cassette) of copyrighted music may be made from sound recordings owned by an educational institution or an individual teacher for the purpose of constructing aural exercises or examinations and may be retained by the educational institution or individual teacher. (This pertains only to the copyright of the music itself and not to any copyright which may exist in the sound recording.)
1 Copying to create or replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works.
2 Copying of or from works intended to be “consumable” in the course of study or of teaching such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and answer sheets and like material.
3 Copying for the purpose of performance, except as in A(1) above.
4 Copying for the purpose of substituting for the purchase of music, except as in A(1) and A(2) above.
5 Copying without inclusion of the copyright notice which appears on the printed copy. (iv)
Discussion of Guidelines
The Committee appreciates and commends the efforts and the cooperative and reasonable spirit of the parties who achieved the agreed guidelines on books and periodicals and on music. Representatives of the American Association of University Professors and of the Association of American Law Schools have written to the Committee strongly criticizing the guidelines, particularly with respect to multiple copying, as being too restrictive with respect to classroom situations at the university and graduate level. However, the Committee notes that the Ad Hoc group did include representatives of higher education, that the stated “purpose of the … guidelines is to state the minimum and not the maximum standards of educational fair use” and that the agreement acknowledges “there may be instances in which copying which does not fall within the guidelines … may nonetheless be permitted under the criteria of fair use.” The Committee believes the guidelines are a reasonable interpretation of the minimum standards of fair use. Teachers will know that copying within the guidelines is fair use. Thus, the guidelines serve the purpose of fulfilling the need for greater certainty and protection for teachers. The Committee expresses the hope that if there are areas where standards other than these guidelines may be appropriate, the parties will continue their efforts to provide additional specific guidelines in the same spirit of good will and give and take that has marked the discussion of this subject in recent months
 Checking a license is not an exact science. Some publisher's use a catch-all that is included on their invoices. Others put the information right on the music. Others like to make you really hunt for it, but it is usually part of the sale transaction. This is why, when making a purchase of music, it is good to take a screen shot or save the paperwork related to the purchase.
 Note: To my knowledge this work does not exist, but it is on my wish list of music to hear. I love it when genres collide.
 This new version would be a "derivative work" based on the original, and have its own copyright protection as a musical composition.
 We have reached the limit of my choral knowledge. Is there separate sheet music for mezzo-soprano and counter-tenor? Probably. I am sorry, I quit choir in 7th grade.
Teachers at our school like to use pictures from movies to decorate their doors. What rules apply to this?
At "Ask the Lawyer," we are frequently amazed at the diversity of the copyright questions we get. When we started the service, we thought we'd often refer people back to answers that had already been covered.
But librarians always find a way to switch things up!
What are the new variables this time?
"Doors" and "images from movies."
We'll start with "images from movies."
Under the Copyright Act, the owner of the copyright controls the right to display still images from movies. So the member is right to flag this as a possible concern.
But we can potentially rest easy on that point, because educators have some special rights under the Copyright Act--if the material was legally obtained, and if the material is used as part of the curriculum--and "displaying" images from motion pictures is one of them.
Or, as Congress puts it in Section 110(a) the Copyright Act:
[P]erformance or display of [one legally obtained] work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction[is an exception to infringement].
So, under 110, here is the analysis to answer the member's question:
If the answer to both is "yes," then the answer is: decorate the heck out of that door.
Having said that, I appreciate that the two factors set out above are not always easy to answer. Frustratingly, there is no one-size-fits-all definition of either "teaching activities" or "lawful copies." That said, using some grown-up versions of famous characters from my childhood, here are some examples of the "wrong" and the "right" way.
The wrong way to use 110
Teacher Mr. Goofus does a Google image search for "Elsa," captures a bunch of screenshots from "Frozen," prints out color copies. He puts them on the outside of the classroom door, together with a sign saying "Let it go, only a few weeks until Winter Break!"
The right way to use 110
Teacher Mr. Gallant uses the copy of the DVD owned by the school library to create a screenshot of the scene where Elsa is discovered to have magical powers. He puts it on the inside of the classroom door, along with a sign saying: "This month we'll be reading the Scarlett Letter and discussing depictions of overcoming social alienation in popular culture."
What do these examples show? The more integrated with the course work, and the more legitimate the copy, the more the teacher (and the school) can claim protection under 110. (NOTE: Mr. Gallant could claim protection under "Fair Use.")
Which brings me back to the other variable: the door. For a 110(a) analysis, what side of the door the movie picture is on is (potentially) relevant, since if the content is on the outside of the door, it's slightly harder to claim the material is part of "face-to-face teaching." That said, if the link to an actual lesson plan is clearly perceptible (like in the "Gallant" example), I think it could work.
And there you have it.
I have noticed this "door decoration" phenomenon when picking my kids up from school. My poor children never have a moment that is Harry Potter® or Elsa®-free.
But I get it, images from movies are a way to brighten the environment and get kids engaged. Fortunately for the teachers of this world, if you follow its formula, Section 110(a) makes it okay. This is good, since after taking a quick look, we could not find a non-paywall source for such images.
But make sure the use is part of the curriculum! Thanks for a thoughtful question.
 Before committing to this example, I checked to see if 1) "Goofus and Gallant" was still "a thing;" and 2) if modern norms of child psychology had decided they were based on any harmful tropes. Wow, was a fun ten-minute tangent. As the children's librarians out there already no doubt know, G&G is very much still "a thing." Further, while a ton of fascinating stuff has been written about their antics (showcased in over a billion issues of "Highlights") they are still alive and illustrating extremes of youthful behavior--having outlived such contemporaries as lead paint, seatbeltless cars, and jarts. Go, G&G.
 This is an appropriate assignment for fourth grade, right?
 Which the "Goofus" example would not qualify for.
 Am I just jealous? I tried to remember what was decorating the doors of my elementary school in New Hartford, NY, circa 1982. I am pretty sure the only decor was the sad remains of the people in "Oregon Trail." Speaking of harmful tropes…