Community bands, groups and choirs not only provide great featured music for local events, they are shining example of the simple joy of making music with others. All ages and experiences are invited to dust off the vocal chords or restring the guitar and join their local group.

In Australia, there are thousands of groups that gather to perform music with thousands of copyright songs integral in their enjoyment and that of their audiences.

When it comes to using copyright materials in your community band, choir or performance group, or as a coordinator allowing copyright materials to be used, you need to ensure the correct licensing is in place.

In this way we’re able to develop the next generation of music creators. If you don’t have a licence you need to deal directly with the songwriters, publishers or the record label or artist who own the rights.

Type of Use


Licensing or Permission Required

Using music at a free event or rehearsal

Holding free events or rehearsals where copyright music is performed.


APRA – Community Band, Choir or Performance Groups Licence

Using music at a ticketed event

Holding ticketed events such as fundraising concerts.  


APRA – Casual Event Licence
 PPCA – Event and Festivals Licence

Copying recordings

If you need to make your own recording, burn commercial recordings or download and format shift recordings from iTunes you will need licensing and permission. For example, making a practice CD so everyone in the choir can learn their part by ear, or a recording of the accompaniment for practice or performance.


AMCOS – Casual Blanket Licence
AMCOS – Audio Manufacture Licencea>
ARIA – Direct record label permission required if a commercial recording is copied


Uploading recordings to the internet for streaming or download 


If you upload or house audio or audio-visual recordings containing music on your website, or some social media channels like Facebook then you need licensing for this.

APRA AMCOS – Online Mini Blanket Licence
ARIA PPCA – Direct record label permission required to use commercial sound recordings

Making audio-visual recordings


If you make a video recording of an event that captures any music then you need permission for that reproduction of the music. This also includes audio-visual presentations that have a copyright backing track – for example a PowerPoint slideshow.

Direct publisher permissions required in all cases and record label permissions required where a commercial recording is used email for assistance

Copying/arranging sheet music or lyrics


If you need to copy, scan, arrange or change a piece of copyright sheet music then you will need permission from the copyright owner to do so.

Direct publisher permissions required in all cases email for assistance

Why are there four organisations that license the use of music?

A recorded song is made up of different parts which need licences for each use:

Part 1: the public performance of the sound recording: an artist/performer and the record label are involved in the recording and production of a song. A licence is typically required if you play a sound recording in public. A licence to do this can be obtained from the relevant record label or artist. However, the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd (PPCA) can also issue this type of licence.

Part 2: the reproduction of the sound recording: a licence is required if you reproduce/copy sound recordings for certain purposes. A licence to do this can be obtained from the relevant record label or artist. However, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) can also issue licences for certain types of reproductions/copying activities.

Part 3: the musical work (the lyrics, the composition), which relates to the author of the work – the songwriter or composer and their publisher. The performance royalties for musical works are collected and paid by Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA).

Part 4: the musical work, which relates to the author of the work. The mechanical royalty for musical works (eg copies onto a CD, DVD or online, lyrics and music reproduced as sheet music) is collected by either Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS), the publisher or the songwriter.


APRA AMCOS is a not for profit, non-government rights management organisation which enables music creators and customers to realise the value of music. APRA stands for Australasian Performing Right Association. AMCOS stands for Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society. The two organisations joined in 1997.

Up until the 1920s songwriters and composers in Australia individually made arrangements with businesses and organisations to use (perform, adapt, communicate, publish, reproduce) their music (mostly sheet music) under a patchwork of Copyright legislation, both state and federal. These negotiations were cumbersome, time consuming and involved a series of individual legal contracts for businesses simply wanting to use the music and the process took songwriters and composers away from their creative pursuits.

In 1926, APRA was formed as a membership organisation to overcome this administrative function and to grant ‘economic rights,’ obtain standardised and fair compensation for those rights and distribute royalties to the rights holder. Now, more than 89,000 songwriters, publisher and composers are members of APRA AMCOS.

This quick video provides insight into our important work.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a federal law governed by the Copyright Act (1968). The Act exists to ensure that people who make creative content (musical, literary, dramatic or artistic) are able to protect their content.

What does the Copyright Act do?

It grants creators a number of rights. When a work is committed to a physical form – print or recording – you need permission from the creator to perform, adapt, communicate, publish or reproduce it. If someone uses a copyright protected work without the right permission, licence or circumstances in place, they are infringing the owner’s rights. How long does copyright last (or when is it in the ‘public domain’)? In Australia, Copyright in a work starts from the moment it is committed to a physical form (that is, written down), until 70 years after the death of its creator/s. For sound recordings, copyright exists from the moment it is recorded, until 70 years after the release year. Published editions of works are protected for 25 years from the year of publication.

Copyright law is not the same in every country. It is important that when you are in Australia you are abiding by the copyright laws here. If something is in the public domain in the US, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s in the public domain in Australia.

Where can I go to get more information?

More information can be found here:

To find out if a song is copyright protected, ask the APRA AMCOS research department to conduct a ‘works search’ for you.

What happens if I don’t take out a licence?

We will ask you to cease and desist using any copyright protected music unlawfully. APRA AMCOS will enforce their authorisation in the Copyright Tribunal. We always provide ample time for licensees to settle their fees before escalating the dispute to this course of action. Attending court may result in you having to pay the original fees as well as legal costs and debt recovery fees. While we are not a strongly litigious organisation, each year we take a small group of organisations to court. We find 95 per cent of businesses and organisations we contact to make aware of their need for a licence are readily compliant.

Licence Info Guide

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