What Are The Different Copyrights In Music?

Copyright owners in musical works and lyrics have the exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce the work: for example, by recording a performance of it, photocopying it, or downloading or streaming it from the Internet;
  • Make it public for the first time;
  • Perform it in public;
  • Communicate it to the public (including via radio, television and the internet);
  • Translate it (for lyrics); or
  • Arrange or transcribe it (for music).

Generally speaking anyone who wants to use a work in these ways must get permission from the copyright owner, who can negotiate a licence fee for these uses. In practice, the public performance and communication rights in a song are usually administered by APRA, while the other rights are often administered by a music publisher.

There is also a separate copyright in a recording of a musical work. These rights are usually owned by a record company, and include the reproduction right as well as the public performance and communication rights.   

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