Ant Horn was a solicitor with Arts Law.
If you intend to perform or play music in public you need to get a licence. This will be the case even if what you are doing is not directly music related. For example, if you are running a business and you want to play music for your customers you need to get licences.
What licences do you need?
Most public performances of music require a licence from the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA). APRA is a collecting society, which collects licence fees for the public performance of music and then distributes them to its members, which are songwriters and composers.
If you are playing CDs, DVDs, records or other type of sound recording format you will need to get a licence from the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). The PPCA is also a collecting society, which collects licence fees for the public playing of sound recordings and then distributes them to its members, which are made up mostly of record companies.
Why do I need a licence?
You need these licences because the Copyright Act 1968 gives copyright owners in musical works and sound recordings the exclusive right to play their musical work or sound recording in public. If you want to play it you need their permission. To streamline the process you can get licences from APRA and the PPCA rather than having to track down each copyright owner and negotiating a licence directly with him or her.
What if I am just playing the radio?
If you are just playing the radio you will not need a licence from PPCA as you are not playing a sound recording in public (the radio station is playing the music therefore it needs to have a PPCA licence). Note that you will need a PPCA licence if you are playing the radio as 'on-hold' music through your telephone system.
You will however still require an APRA licence as the right being exercised by the radio station is different from the public performance right and is covered by a separate licence.
What if the music is only being played in the office for staff?
If the performance occurs outside a private home it will, in most cases, be a public performance and will therefore require you to have the necessary licences.
How much will it cost?
The cost of the licence will depend on the use you are making of the music. For example, a nightclub will have to pay more for music it is playing for its patrons to dance to than a florist would for background music.
Musicians and songwriters
If you are no already a member of APRA you should find out how to become one as you may be missing out on royalties. You should also find out about joining the PPCA as an artist as again you may be entitled to receive royalties.