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2.3 Musical Works

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In this section, musical works refers to:

  • original musical works (tunes, melodies, opera, pop songs, orchestral scores, advertising jingles)
  • new arrangements of musical works (cover versions, translations)

More than one copyright work

Music usually involves more than one copyright work such as:

There are separate copyrights in:

It is important to remember that there may be different periods of copyright protection for the different works involved in the music.

See 1.7: How long does it last? for further information

Copying and communicating musical works

In general, copyright in a musical work will not be infringed where the copy or communication of the musical work is done:

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  1. Fair Dealing 

    The copying of musical works for fair dealing purposes is free and does not require the permission of the copyright owner. The relevant fair dealing exceptions are:

    • research or study
    • criticism or review
    • reporting the news
    • parody or satire
  2. Flexible dealing 

    Schools/TAFE institutes can now use musical works for non-commercial teaching purposes if the use is not covered by another exception or Statutory Licence. To use the flexible dealings exception, teachers must assess:

    • whether the proposed use is narrow
    • whether it would conflict with a normal way the copyright owner exploits the material
    • whether the use would unreasonably harm the copyright owner

    One example of an activity covered by the flexible dealings exception is adapting a musical score for students to play in a music class.

  3. Other exceptions
    1. Performing a musical work during class

      Copyright is not infringed by a teacher or student performing a musical work while giving or receiving educational instruction in a class.

    2. Communicating a musical work for classroom performance

      Schools/TAFE institutes may communicate musical works to perform them in class eg displaying a score in an electronic whiteboard or virtual classroom to enable students to perform it.

    3. Copying by hand
    4. Copying for exams

      See 1.13: Copyright Exceptions for further information

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  4. Voluntary Licences for the copying of musical works

    Schools have a number of Voluntary Licences for using music:

    1. APRA School Licence 

      The performance of a musical work in class or as part of a course of educational instruction does not infringe the copyright owner's right to perform the work in public.

      For any public performance of a musical work outside the classroom, the performance must be covered by the APRA schools licence. Otherwise, permission from APRA will need to be obtained.

      The APRA schools licence also permits the public performance of musical works contained in sound recordings such as playing CDs. However, a PPCA licence may also be required depending on the nature of the performance (see below).

      See Education Licence C: APRA Licence for further information

    2. AMCOS Licence

      Most educational institutions in all states and territories are covered by the AMCOS licence which allows educational institutions to photocopy or transcribe an entire copy of print music (known as sheet music).

      The licence is subject to the following conditions:

      The AMCOS licence allows copies of print music to be made only for the educational institution's educational purposes, which include:

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