When someone creates a piece of music (or a piece of text, a graphic, a photo, a film or anything else that is protected under copyright laws), a whole system of legal rights and obligations comes into play. These rights and obligations outline what someone can and can’t do with the material.
Who owns the copyright in a piece of music?
There is generally more than one owner of copyright in any given music track. The composer who wrote the music owns copyright in the musical works. The lyricist who wrote the lyrics owns copyright in the literary works. In some circumstances, the artist who performed the music may own the copyright in a sound recording of their live performance. Finally, the maker of the recording (typically a record company) owns copyright in the sound recording.
What rights do the copyright owners have?
The copyright owners (i.e., the owner of the work and the owner of the recording respectively) have a number of exclusive rights, including the right to:
- make copies of the tracks;
- perform the tracks in public; and
- communicate the tracks to the public (e.g., by broadcasting the tracks).
Do I need permission to broadcast music on my community radio station?
Yes. Generally, a community broadcaster needs to obtain broadcasting licences for musical works from APRA and for sound recordings from PPCA or the individual sound recording copyright owners. APRA offer blanket broadcast licences. If you are a member of the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) then you may make use of the industry agreement that has been negotiated between PPCA and CBAA. However, you are not obliged to use this agreement. You can negotiate a separate licence with PPCA or with the individual copyright holders.
Finally, if you are broadcasting a live performance (for example from a community concert), you will also need to make sure you have permission from the performing artist(s) to broadcast the performance.
Can I make copies of my broadcast that contains music?
Yes, if you wish to make a copy of recordings that you have made and which have already been broadcasted by your radio station, then this may be done for up to 12 months after the first broadcast. After the 12 month period, the recordings must be destroyed. However, if you wish to keep the recordings for longer than 12 months, you will need to obtain a Community Radio Broadcasters Licence from AMCOS for the musical works and an equivalent retention licence for sound recordings from PPCA or from the individual copyright owners of the sound recordings. AMCOS also offers such licences in relation to the use of “production” music (e.g., specially composed and recorded for use in radio productions, including ads and station promos).
Please note, that the aforementioned licences do not allow you to make copies of your broadcasts for the purpose of “podcasts”. Separate licences are required for podcasts.
Can I use my own CDs to broadcast on my community radio station?
Yes, you can as long as you are using legitimate original music (e.g., CDs or digital files) and you have the appropriate broadcast licences discussed above in place.
If somebody donates their music collection to a community radio station, can I use it for broadcast?
Yes, you can as long as you have in place the appropriate broadcast licences discussed above and it is legitimate original music.
Can I digitalise my music collection for use in my community radio station?
You may digitalise your legitimate original music collection for the purposes of broadcasting only, however copies of music may only be retained for up to 12 months, after which time they must be destroyed. If you wish to keep the digital copies for longer than 12 months, you will need to obtain a Community Radio Broadcasters Licence from AMCOS for the musical works. An equivalent licence for sound recordings is available from PPCA or from the relevant sound recording copyright owners directly.
What about using music obtained by file sharing?
Unless authorised, the vast bulk of P2P ‘file sharing’ is considered illegal copying and transmission of copyright material and cannot be used for the purposes of broadcasting. This activity hurts sales of music and the livelihoods of people in the business including the artists that you are playing on your community radio station.
Can I share my music with other radio stations?
If you wish to share music with other radio stations then you will need to obtain a Community Radio Broadcasters Licence from AMCOS for the musical works and an equivalent licence for sound recordings from PPCA or the relevant sound recording copyright owners. For example, the terms of the AMCOS licence allow you to distribute musical works to “other radio stations” on the basis that you do not allow them to copy or broadcast them.
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