An Introduction to Copyright


What is copyright?

Copyright is a legal right that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator (e.g. the composer of a song or the author of a book) to receive compensation for their intellectual effort. 

It is a form of intellectual property and dictates rights includes reproduction of the work, derivative works (for example, cover songs), distribution, public performance and "moral rights" such as attribution.

In Australia, copyright law is contained in the Copyright Act 1968 and is automatically applicable to all creative works, regardless of the format in which they are recorded.

Why you need to know

Community broadcasters generally need permission to broadcast material protected by copyright, such as music.

Rather than needing to approach each individual rightsholder, this permission can be obtained via two licenses: one from APRA AMCOS and one from the PPCA. One of each licence covers your whole radio station.

The reason that you need to hold two licenses is because there are at least two copyrights in most recordings and music videos:

  • The copyright in the song (lyrics, composition etc.) – covered by APRA broadcast licences.
  • The copyright in the recording and/or music video of the song (a particular recorded performance) – covered by PPCA broadcasting licences.

APRA AMCOS represents authors, composers and music publishers, licensing organisations to play, perform, copy, record or make available their members’ music, and in turn distribute these royalties to their members.

Community radio stations can apply for a combined broadcast, reproduction and online licence, available on an “opt-in” basis, so stations only pay for what they need. Find out more.

PPCA Licences

The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited (PPCA) represents the interest of record companies and Australian recording artists. The PPCA grant licences for the broadcast, communication or public playing of recorded music and music videos and, in turn, distribute the licence fees collected to the record labels and Australian recording artists. Find out more.

The PPCA has an industry-based agreement with the CBAA that offers a 50% discount on PPCA fees to members

Online Broadcasting

Community broadcasters who wish to augment their traditional terrestrial broadcast with various online distribution channels are required to obtain the additional relevant licenses. Contact us for more information.

Other Copyright Organisations

The Australian Copyright Council is an independent, non-profit organisation that represents the peak bodies for professional artists and content creators working in Australia’s creative industries and Australia’s major copyright collecting societies.

The Australian Copyright Council Information Sheet - Community Broadcasters & Copyright is available here.