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Copyright

This information sheet is for songwriters and composers. People who use other peopleʼs music may also find it helpful.

If you are interested in performersʼ rights, see our information sheet Performersʼ Rights. If you want information about playing music in public (including CDs, MP3s, radio or TV), see our information sheets Music – Playing Music: APRA & PPCA, Music: Bands & Music: DJs.
The purpose of this information sheet is to give general introductory information about copyright. If you need to know about how the law applies in a particular situation, please get advice from a lawyer.
Key points
• Copyright protection is free and applies automatically when material is created.
• A song normally comprises both a musical work and a literary work, each of which may have
different copyright owners.
• Sound recordings are also protected by copyright. This copyright is separate from and additional to any copyrights in the music and lyrics.
• Creators of musical or literary works also have moral rights in relation to their work.
Copyright protection generally
There is no registration procedure for copyright protection in Australia.
For a work to be protected by copyright it must fall into one of the categories of material set out in the Copyright Act. The categories include musical works, literary works and sound recordings.
An original work which falls into one of the relevant categories is automatically protected as soon as it is recorded in some form (for example, written down, recorded onto disk (like CD or DVD), or saved in a digital file (like MP3 or WAV). For the purposes of copyright law, a work is “original” if it has not merely been copied from another work, and it is the result of skill or labour on the part of its author.