Copyright update

A new licence for music and reminder for screen rights use
8 December 2020

Universities Australia has negotiated a new music use agreement with the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (ACOMS), Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) and Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA). We have signed up for Tier One and also the use of print music (requested by the School of Music for their education programs).

This agreement is very important as it enables use of music for educational and other university processes such as graduation ceremonies and other events.

A very helpful guide from Universities Australia is available online.

More details

Copyright in music is complex.

  1. Firstly, there is the copyright in the music itself, that is, the notes that make up the melody that form the work.
  2. Secondly, there is the copyright in the lyrics – if there are any.
    • The person who wrote the music is not always the person who wrote the lyrics.
    • Sometimes there can be multiple people who wrote the music and/or the lyrics.
    • There could be one person who wrote the music and the lyrics all by themself.
    • Or there could be five people who wrote the music together and two people who wrote the lyrics which means there are seven possible copyright owners in total.
  3. Thirdly, there is the copyright in printed edition. This is usually vested in the publisher that caused the work to be printed, but these rights can sometimes change hands.

The new Tertiary Music licence allows for the use of music and sound recordings with agreed remuneration.  Some important points:

  • The agreement allows Universities to perform music in the below circumstances. When we say ‘perform music’ throughout this document we mean both perform musical works live (such as at a concert), or to cause sound recordings to be heard (by playing them over speakers).
  • You can perform music:
    • at University events where ticket prices are less than $40 (plus GST) per person
    • at University graduation ceremonies (ticket price is irrelevant for graduation ceremonies)
    • for educational purposes
    • as background music in University spaces (these are businesses that are 100% owned by the University such as cafes, retail shops, health centres, galleries, canteens, etc)
    • in a University childcare centre (as long the centre is only providing care for the children of University staff and students, not the general public)
    • in the workplace for the benefit of University staff (this includes putting music on your telephone hold system or playing music at staff events such as Christmas parties).
  • University performances can be live streamed if they are performances given at a University event, a graduation ceremony or for educational purposes. There are limitations around how these streams can take place and how long they can stay online. A live stream is considered to be a synchronisation so you need to consult the ‘Synchronisation’ section below regarding how you can make and use a live stream in reliance on this agreement. There are some caveats regarding the performance of music under this licence.
  • You should consult Schedule G of the agreement for all of these caveats, but they include (but are not limited to) Universities cannot:
    • perform Grand Right Works in their entirety (Grand Right Works are usually musicals for which the music has been specifically written – like Wicked, Les Misérables or Rent)
    • perform works in a Dramatic Context (this means that if you want to use music in a live stage production that uses a storyline and has one or more narrators or characters then you will need to seek further licensing from APRA)
    • perform copyright choral works of more than 20 minutes’ duration
    • perform any copyright work to which they have changed the lyrics or turned into a burlesque
    • use featured music in University businesses unless they are childcare centres or gyms (noting that those childcare centres and gyms are only covered if they are for staff and students only)
  • Note that entities that are not legally part of the university such as gym and childcare centres arrange for their licences separately.

Universities Australia have worked very collaboratively with the organisations to create a licence which will genuinely assist the operation of all universities with appropriate remuneration.

Screenrights Agreement Best Practice Guidelines are available online. More detailed information including the information to be provided on copies of broadcasts in analogue form and the notice on copies of broadcasts in analogue form in the guides on the ANU Copyright webpage.

For any additional information please contact