Beginning in 2019, significant changes will be made to the way public performance licences are obtained for music. APRA AMCOS and PPCA will be launching a joint venture known as ‘OneMusic Australia’ with the aim of simplifying the process by which businesses and individuals licence music. At present, licensees may need to apply to both APRA AMCOS and PPCA to ensure that they are not infringing upon copyright when they play music publicly. OneMusic will provide for a single collective licensing scheme and remove the need for two separate applications.
Do I need a licence?
If you play music in your place of business, you will require a public performance licence in order to avoid penalties for copyright infringement. This rule applies to all types of public performance – whether you are a pub that has a live music night, a retail outlet that plays the radio, a restaurant, a funeral home, or even an office that plays music during call waiting. The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) draws a distinction between the music of songs and their lyrics, and the actual sound recording of a piece. At this stage, if you are playing a recording in your place of business, you will need to apply for a licence from APRA AMCOS to play the music and lyrics of a work, as well as a licence from PPCA for permission to play the sound recording of a work. So if, for example, you own a pub that regularly has a ‘covers’ evening where local artists play existing works live, you would only need an APRA ACMOS licence. If, however, you own a pub that plays existing recordings of artists, you would need both an APRA AMCOS and a PPCA licence for permission to play the actual sound recordings.
What is a collective licensing society?
APRA AMCOS and PPCA are collective licensing societies. They provide a streamlined procedure for obtaining copyright permissions to perform work. The alternative to obtaining a licence through these agencies would be to obtain copyright permission from every single artist that you played in your place of business. As you can imagine, this would be an extremely time-consuming and difficult process. Instead, it is more efficient to pay a licence fee to collecting societies who in turn determine the allocation of royalties to artists.
The formation of OneMusic Australia is intended to streamline the application process for licenses and remove the need for multiple licenses. It will also provide for standard formulas by which the licence fee payable is calculated (currently APRA AMCOS and PPCA calculate their licence rates in different manners).
The creation of OneMusic has however caused some concern amongst licensees and creators as to whether there is sufficient transparency in the way the agency will calculate its fees. There has been concern in the media that licence fees will skyrocket, with some parts of the industry claiming that their fees will almost double by $150,000 a year. APRA AMCOS’ Head of Revenue and Licensing, Richard Mallet, rejects this claim and states that venues currently licensed under both schemes should see a saving of 3.8% annually. Anxiety regarding changes to collective licensing are perhaps indicative of a broader concern about a lack of transparency in the calculation of collective licensing schemes. These concerns were noted in the recent draft review of the Code of Conduct for Australian copyright collecting societies, undertaken by the Department of Communications.
Find Out More
If you are interested to find out how OneMusic Australia may affect your licence fees, you can find detailed consultation papers organised by industry type on their website.
For information regarding the current review of the Copyright Collecting Societies Code of Conduct, visit the Department of Communications website.
By Davina Rimmer