Changes for PPCA licensors

The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd (PPCA) is a collecting society that deals with the copyright in sound recordings. This layer of copyright is separate from the copyright in the music and lyrics of a song. If you own the copyright in the music or lyrics of a song then you may decide to join the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) so that APRA can collect royalties on your behalf when other people use your songs. APRA deals with the copyright in the music and lyrics, but not the copyright in the sound recording. Record labels and independent artists (ie where you have retained 100% copyright in your sound recording) can consider joining PPCA so that PPCA can collect royalties for the public performance and transmission of your sound recordings.

In September 2007 PPCA was granted an authorisation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The authorisation relates to PPCA’s activities in licensing the public performance and transmission of sound recordings of its licensors.

The authorisation was made subject to a number of conditions. As a result, PPCA is changing its input agreements and now requires all licensors (in accordance with the ACCC authorisation) to have direct licensing guidelines in relation to public performance and transmission rights in their sound recordings.

All the current input agreements are being terminated (ended) by PPCA and new agreements are being issued. If you are a PPCA licensor then PPCA will continue to licence your sound recordings and collect royalties if you:

  • sign the new PPCA input agreement; and
  • have direct licensing guidelines (this is a condition of the new agreement).

PPCA licence sound recordings for public performance and transmission rights. They do not license additional rights, such as the reproduction right that must be exercised when a sound recording is syncronised to a film. If someone wants to use your sound recording in a film, PPCA cannot provide them with a licence (however, Arts Law has a sample licence that you can purchase for this if you own the copyright in your work: see our Music Commission and Music Licence sample agreements, below).

Arts Law has prepared a Direct Licensing Guidelines: Sound Recordings information sheet about the changes (see below). Arts Law has also prepared sample guidelines that PPCA licensors can adapt for their own needs. This resource, Direct Licensing Guidelines, is available free of charge.

Serena Armstrong was a solicitor with Arts Law.

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