What is performing in public?

One of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner of literary, dramatic or musical works is to perform the work in public. The corresponding right for owners of films is to cause the film to be seen or heard in public. For owners of sound recordings, it is to cause the recording to be heard in public. There is no corresponding right for owners of broadcast signals.

The consequence of this public performance right is that you have to obtain permission from the copyright owners, and pay a licence fee, for public performances of copyright works, sound recordings, or films. This is the case even if you do not charge an entry fee. Just about every situation that is not private and domestic is considered to be in public.

The major exception is the classroom, which the law deems not to be ‘in public’ as explained in the next section Classroom is not ‘in public’.