Music recordings

Playing recorded music in class

Music and other sound recordings may be played in lectures and tutorials.

Fortunately for educational institutions, there is a provision in the Copyright Act in section 28 that deems performances in the course of educational instruction not to be in public, so long as the audience is limited to those taking part in the instruction. This means that CDs can be played in class without the permission of the copyright owner. Of course, only a legitimately acquired recording can be played.

Copying recordings

QUT staff and students can reproduce and communicate for educational purposes an extensive repertoire of musical sound recordings without having to obtain prior permission from the individual copyright holders.

Although there are no provisions in the Copyright Act that permit you to copy sound recordings for teaching purposes, QUT is party to the Tertiary Music Licence agreement, which allows participating universities, subject to certain conditions, to reproduce and communicate copyright musical works and sound recordings for educational purposes and to perform them at university events. This agreement was negotiated in 2005 between the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee (AVCC) and the various music copyright collecting societies. In 2014 a top up agreement resulted in extended rights with regard to digital music recordings.

Musical copyrights are complex, with rights existing in the composition, the performance, and the recording of a work. Under the agreement QUT pays an annual licence fee to the four music collecting societies who control different components of the copyrights. The four societies between them administer the rights for about 95% of recorded music available in Australia. The four societies are:

  • Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA)
  • Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS)
  • Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA)
  • Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA)

Copying recorded music for teaching purposes

Under the Tertiary Music Licence, the university may copy music and music video recordings within the repertoire of AMCOS and ARIA.

Both AMCOS and ARIA are involved because there are two copyrights in the recorded music:

  • the reproduction right in the musical composition, controlled by AMCOS; and
  • the reproduction right in the sound recording, controlled by ARIA.

ARIA record labels are listed on the ARIA web site (PDF 442KB).

Any recordings under these labels may be copied. If the recording you wish to copy is not on one of these labels, please contact the University Copyright Officer.

The following conditions apply:

  • The source recording can be a physical format e.g a DVD, or, a digital format e.g .WAV
  • The source recording must be from a legal source e.g a legitimate copy of a DVD, or, from a legal provider such as iTunes
  • The copying must be for educational purposes associated with a course of study or research
  • The copying can be to a physical or digital format
  • The copies can only be made available to QUT students or staff
  • All forms of copied recordings must carry required warning notice or label

It is not necessary under the terms of the licence to keep records of copies made.

Distributing copies made for teaching purposes

The copied recordings may be distributed to students in a physical or digital format , deposited in the library for student access, placed on a server for student listening or downloading, or, emailed to students. Access must be restricted to QUT staff and students. Each year, the university is required to report the sound recordings available on the streaming facility as of 1 October, which requires some record-keeping by the university.

All copies (physical or digital) must have the required copyright notice or label. The notice and label requirements are available at Notices.

Physical copies such as DVDs may be sold to students so long as the price is set to recover costs only.

Music used for teaching purposes may be covered by the Tertiary Music Licence. Contact the University Copyright Officer as to how to proceed, if you:

  • need information about streaming or downloading music
  • are contemplating using music for a video, audio, stage or multimedia production
  • are contemplating providing music for student films.

Infringing copies of recorded music

There is a lot of music available on the internet. Unfortunately, much of it is illegal, in the sense that the people offering it are not the legitimate owners, and have no authority to make copies available to you or to sell them to you. If you are found to have illegal music files on your computer, you could face disciplinary action for a breach of the university’s Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy. You should understand that sound recordings made or copied under the Tertiary Music Licence for the educational purpose of QUT must not be used or copied for other purposes. For your own protection, you would be wise to have some form of identification or separate storage of these copies. Strict adherence to the notice and labelling requirements should assist.