Fact Sheets

Selling Music At Markets

What’s copyright?

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 musical 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. The artist who performed the music owns 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 music in public; and
  • Communicate the tracks to the public.


How do I know whether a CD/DVD is legitimate or not?

The best way to pick out a legitimate CD/DVD is to look closely at the CD/DVD and the price. Here are a few tips:

  • The back of a legitimate disc is likely to be silver, however a burnt CD/DVD will be on a CD-R or DVD-R with a blue, green or gold back;
  • The centre hole of a legitimate CD/DVD carries the manufacturer’s identification number and bar code hologram, whereas a burnt CD-R/DVD-R may be labeled as a CD-R or DVD-R;
  • The packaging of a CD/DVD can often be an indication - look for spelling mistakes, poor quality, and colour distortion; and

However, you should be aware that high quality counterfeits are often very difficult to detect. If in doubt, contact Music Rights Australia.


Can I record a live performance or sell an unauthorised version of a live performance at the markets?

No. You cannot record live performances without the permission of all of the relevant copyright owners. The sale of bootlegs is copyright infringement and the civil and criminal penalties set out below apply.


Can I copy legitimate CDs that I own to sell?

The purchase of a CD only gives you the right to own the physical disc, to play it privately, and to pass on the same physical disc to another person. This means that copying music from a CD, without the permission of all relevant copyright owners, is an infringement of copyright except in limited circumstances. The Copyright Act allows you to copy music legitimately obtained for your private and domestic use on another device that you own eg. from CD to iPod. However, this does not extend to copying music and selling it at markets.


Can I copy music from the internet onto CDs and sell them? 

The basic principle is that you cannot copy or distribute music, including from the internet, without the permission of all relevant copyright owners. So, you cannot sell CDs with music burnt from file sharing networks such as bittorrent or from other unauthorised sites. Nor can you copy tunes downloaded from legitimate music sites like iTunes onto CDs and sell those CDs.


Can I sell my old iPod, mp3 player or computer that contains music?

No. The sale of devices pre-loaded with music constitutes copyright infringement of the sound recordings and musical works contained in the MP3 player or computer, except where permission is obtained from the copyright owners.


What are the consequences?

Penalties for copyright infringement range from injunctions, damages and costs through to fines of up to $60,500 for individuals and up to $302,500 for corporations for each infringement and/or up to 5 years imprisonment per offence. Police  can also issue on-the-spot fines of $1320 per offence and seize any pirate product.


Need more information?

Music Rights Australia



(02) 8569 1177





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