Everything you need to know about music licensing when hosting your Eisteddfod

APRA AMCOS, ARIA and PPCA’s new blanket licence solution (from 1 January 2017) covers the use of copyright music and sound recordings at eisteddfods.

Eisteddfods continue to provide an incredible opportunity for speech and drama students, dancers, vocalists and instrumentalists to gain confidence, performance experience and the guidance of expert eisteddfod adjudicators.

In Australia, there are around 150 eisteddfods held a year and some tens of thousands of entrants tread the boards with thousands of copyright songs integral in the entrant’s success. Some of our most famous songwriters have emerged from the nurseries of eisteddfods, like Rick Brewster, songwriter and lead guitarist of The Angels, who won a classical piano competition at age 16.

What is an Eisteddfod?

An Eisteddfod is defined as being a competition in the arts, organised and presented by a non-commercial body run predominantly by volunteers. Events deemed to be commercial in nature will not be licensed under the new scheme.

Improvements to Performance Licensing for Eisteddfod Organisers from 1 January, 2017

If you are a member of the Association of Eisteddfod Societies in Australia (AESA), then you will be entitled to receive a discount per entry. An entry is defined as being one person or one group entering one event.

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

A recorded song is made up of different aspects which need licences for each use. A writer creates the musical work (lyrics, composition), whereas a performer creates the sound recording. The four societies represent each of these creators and the different aspects of their work:

Part 1: The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) licenses the public performance of a musical work on behalf of the writer or publisher. When musical works are performed, either recorded or live, licence fees are collected and are paid as performance royalties to APRA’s writer members.

Part 2: The Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) licenses the reproduction of the musical work on behalf of the writer or publisher. When a musical work is reproduced onto CD, DVD, the internet, as sheet music/lyrics, licence fees are collected and are paid as mechanical royalties to AMCOS’s writer members.

Part 3: The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd (PPCA) licenses the public performance of a sound recording on behalf of the performer or record label. When a sound recording is performed, licence fees are collected and are paid as royalties to PPCA members.

Part 4: The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) licenses the reproduction of a sound recording on behalf of the performer or record label. When a sound recording is reproduced/copied, licence fees are collected and are paid as royalties to ARIA members.

Using photocopies in an Eisteddfod

Performers must use legal sheet music in their performance (unless playing by ear). This includes purchasing an original score from a music retailer or a legal online provider, or borrowing a score from a library, teacher or friend.

If you need to make a photocopy of your music to provide to the examiner, adjudicator or accompanist you will need to fill out a Copyright Declaration Form. This form permits you to make a temporary copy of your sheet music, for the purpose of the eisteddfod or exam, and will be destroyed after the event. The form will need to be attached to any photocopies made and provided to the eisteddfod organisers.

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.

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