Copyright Basics

Please note: The information below is designed as a general outline only. It is not legal advice and you should not rely on it as such. 

Introduction

The following is an overview of key copyright issues that affect commercial radio broadcasters. For more information on copyright, theAustralian Copyright Council is also a useful resource.

The Purpose Of Copyright Law

Copyright law is an internationally recognised system which exists to reward original creative efforts as well as those people or businesses that invest in the outputs of creative people.
Copyright does this by giving copyright owners exclusive rights for a significant period of time (in some cases 70 years). Exclusivity means that the copyright owner can enjoy the use of the copyright protected works to the exclusion of everyone else.  Or, as is the usually the case, the copyright owner can set the terms (including price) on which other people are permitted to use the copyright protected works. This is called a copyright licence.

What Is Protected By Copyright?

A wide variety of content is protected by copyright. You should always consider copyright issues when using content created or produced by someone else. This includes music (and lyrics), scripts, programs and photographs.

Copyright covers:
a) musical works  the musical notes that make up a song (a separate copyright from the lyrics);
b) literary works  e.g. a script, poem or song lyrics;
c) dramatic works  e.g. a play or film screenplay;
d) artistic works  e.g. a painting or sculpture or photograph;
e) sound recordings - e.g. the actual recording of a musical performance;
f) films - the aggregate of visual images that make up a moving picture such as a movie, TV advertisement or music video; and
g) radio and TV broadcasts - the programs put together and broadcast by a radio or TV station (a separate type of copyright from that in any underlying works such as music, lyrics, or sound recordings).

Some Other Features Of Copyright Law In Australia

a) originality: copyright protects only original works or subject matter;
b) automatic protection: there is no system of copyright registration in Australia. Protection is automatic once the original work/other subject matter is reduced to a material form. This means when it's first written down or recorded in some way so that it's capable of being reproduced;
c) first owner: the general rule is that the author or creator is the first owner of copyright. However there are some exceptions to this rule. As a type of property, copyright can be sold or licensed or transferred in a will; and
d) term of protection: for works, it's generally the life of the author plus 70 years but there are differences in the term for different categories of copyright.

The Exclusive Rights Of Copyright Owners

There are a combination of different rights available to copyright owners as set out below:
a) reproduction right:the right to make a copy or copies;
b) publication right:the right to make it available to the public for the first time;
c) performance right:the right to have it performed in public;
d) communication right:the right to have it transmitted to the public by any electronic means such as a broadcast or via the internet;
e) adaptation right:the right to adapt it; and
f) commercial rental right: the right to enter into a commercial rental arrangement.


There are some very limited exceptions to these exclusive rights which allow free uses that don't require the permission of the copyright owner. For information on copyright exceptions, you should refer to the website of the Australian Copyright Council.

Copyright And Music Played On Radio

There are several layers of copyright in a piece of copyright material. In every music track you play there will generally be three different layers of copyright:
  1. The music. The copyright in the music, originally owned by the composer;
  2. The song lyrics. The copyright in the words of the song, originally owned by the song writer; and
  3. The sound recording right. This is the copyright in the particular sound recording that you are playing. It is usually owned by the record company.
Before you play music you need to make sure that you have a licence from the copyright owner in relation to each of the above three layers of copyright. 

Copyright Licences For The Commercial Radio Industry

Commercial Radio Australia has negotiated a number of copyright agreements with copyright collecting societies to enable different uses of music by your station. These agreements are with:
a)APRA: to allow your station to broadcast the music and lyrics in commercially released songs;
b)AMCOS: which mainly controls reproduction (copying) rights in music and rights in production music libraries. AMCOS is administered by APRA; and
c)PPCA: to allow your station to broadcast commercially released sound recordings.For more information on the PPCA agreement and the reporting process, please refer to the section PPCA.

Please note: the industry agreements do not cover music used in commercials.

Copyright And Music In Commercials

You need additional copyright licences in order to use any commercial music in advertisements. APRA|AMCOS and PPCA do not administer licences relating to such use. Instead, you need to contact the publisher (who usually owns the rights to the lyrics and music) and the record company directly, to find out whether they still own the rights, and if so the commercial terms on which they are willing to licence the work on.

Copyright In Broadcasts

The broadcaster owns copyright in the radio program that goes to air. It would usually constitute an infringement of this copyright if a third party reproduces or re-broadcasts it without the broadcaster's permission. This copyright exists alongside the underlying copyright in the music, words and other content that makes up the program.

Industry Copyright Agreements

Commercial Radio Australia has negotiated a number of copyright agreements with copyright collecting societies to enable different uses of music by your station. These agreements are with:
a)APRA: to allow your station to broadcast the music and lyrics incommercially released songs. A separate industry agreement exists to allow real time internet streaming. For more information on the APRA broadcast agreement and the reporting process, please refer to the section called  APRA Reports ;
b)AMCOS: which mainly controls reproduction (copying) rights in music and rights in production music libraries. AMCOS is administered by APRA; and
c)PPCA: to allow your station to broadcast commercially released sound recordings. For more information on the PPCA agreement and the reporting process, please refer to the section PPCA.
 

For more information, please contact Sarah Kruger (Head of Legal & Regulatory Affairs) at sarah.kruger@commercialradio.com.au or 02 9281 6577.