Playing Music In Your Fitness Class
When someone creates a piece of music (or a piece of text, a graphic, a photo, painting, 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.
Copyright law provides an incentive for creators to continue creating. Copyright Law in Australia is governed by the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act), and the intention of the Act is to protect copyrighted works from being used without the permission of the owner and to provide an economic incentive to artists to produce new material.
Who owns the copyright in a piece of music?
There is generally more than one copyright owner in any given track. For instance:
- The composer who wrote the music owns copyright in the musical works.
- The maker of the sound recording (typically a record company) owns copyright in the sound recording.
- Additionally, the lyricist who wrote the lyrics owns copyright in the literary works. The artist who performed the music may own the copyright in a sound recording of their live performance.
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 music in public (eg by playing the tracks in a fitness class); and
- Communicate the tracks to the public.
Do I need any licences to play legitimately purchased music in my aerobics class or more generally in the gym?
Yes. In Australia music creators generally authorise two organisations to administer their rights and collect their royalties – APRA AMCOS (composers and music publishers) and PPCA (recording artists and record labels). A OneMusic Australia licence bundles all those rights into one licence and further simplifies the process of gaining the required permission to use music.
I bought digital music from a legitimate online music provider - can I play this music in my fitness class?
If you wish to play music in your fitness class, you must get permission or a licence. You can approach each of the rights owners directly or obtain a blanket licence from OneMusic.
Additionally, if you legitimately buy music from legal online distributors you should check their relevant terms and conditions to make sure that you are licensed for the relevant purpose, including for using the music in a commercial setting.
Please keep in mind that you cannot make multiple copies of the digital file, such as physically copying the file from your computer onto multiple devices, for use in a business context.
Can I copy my digital music collection and give it to another instructor?
The basic principle is that you cannot copy or distribute music (including from the internet) without the permission of all relevant copyright owners. You may loan your device to another instructor for them to use, but you cannot make multiple copies of the files without seeking the required licenses.
What about using music obtained by file-sharing?
Unless authorised, the vast bulk of P2P 'file sharing' is considered unauthorised copying and transmission of copyright material. This activity hurts sales of music and the livelihoods of people in the business including your favourite artists.
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