Copyright F.A.Q.

Please click on the links below to view the FAQ answers.

Should I know about copyright?
A basic understanding of copyright is important for everyone who writes music. The copyright in a musical work refers to the exclusive rights which enable the owner to control the use of the work and the entitlement to rely on Copyright Law to prevent the unauthorized use by others.

What rights are covered?
Copyright as defined by the Copyright Act includes the exclusive right to;
  1. Reproduce a work in material form.
  2. Publish a work.
  3. Perform a work in public.
  4. Broadcast a work.
  5. Transmit a work to subscribers.

How are rights grouped?
The rights are commonly grouped as the Performing Right (the right to broadcast a work, perform it in public and transmit it by cable or other means), the Mechanical Right (the right to record a song onto CD etc), and the Synchronization Right (the right to use the music as the soundtrack for a film or video).

How long does copyright last?
Copyright in a musical work lasts for the life of the composer plus 70 years. If, however, a work is first published, broadcast or performed after the composer's death, then copyright lasts for 70 years from the date of first publication.

How do I secure copyright?
In Australia there is no formal procedure required for copyright protection. The composer/author obtains automatic copyright protection as soon as the work is reduced to a material form such as manuscript or when the song is recorded on CD, computer or some other form.


What should I do to protect my copyright?
Copies of manuscipt and recordings should be retained and clearly marked with the international copyright symbol © followed by the year in which the work was written and the name/s of the composer/s and author/s.

What can I expect from my copyrights?
The owners of copyright in a musical work are entitled to a royalty every time their music is performed at clubs, pubs, restaurants, shopping centres, festivals or concerts or broadcast on radio or TV and streamed on internet.

Are there penalties for breaching copyright?
The Copyright Act and other legislation provide severe penalties for dealings in music that infringe the rights of artists, composers, lyricists, producers, record companies and music publishers. Penalties range from injuctions, damages and costs through to substantial fines for individuals and for corporations per infringement.

Where can I find further information?
Check the Website Links page for links to the organizations in Australia that can provide comprehensive information on Copyright Law and procedures.