Under Australian law, all data and sound recordings are automatically copyright until the author or composer has been dead for 70 years. We strictly adhere to Copyright Law, and will transfer your data or audio only if you own the copyright or have a licence from the relevant authorities, or if the data or recording is not subject to copyright.
That's a simple summary of copyright law in Australia, but the reality of it is more complicated. Different rules apply if the copyright is owned by the government, or if the material was already in the public domain when the law changed on 1st January 2005 (which was a result of Australia signing a free-trade agreement with the USA).
For example, if copyright had expired under the old rules which applied until 1st January 2005, then the material remains in the public domain, and the new 70 year rule does not apply. Also, if the copyright owner is the Commonwealth government, or a State or Territory government, then the old laws apply, and copyright will continue until 50 years from the end of the year in which it was made, or from the end of the year of first publication.
Copyright relating to broadcast signals has also not been affected by the Australia / USA Free Trade Agreement, and so copyright in a broadcast signal remains for 50 years after the end of the year in which the broadcast was made.
|Sound recordings made before 1st January 1955||In the public domain, free of copyright.|
|Sound recordings made on or after 1st January 1955||Copyright for 70 years from the end of the year the recording was first published.|
|Musical works (content) where the composer died before 1st January 1955||In the public domain, free of copyright.|
|Musical works (content) where the composer died on or after 1st January 1955, or the composer is still alive||Copyright for 70 years after the end of the year in which the composer died.|
|Broadcasts made before 1st May 1969||Not protected by Australian copyright laws|
|Broadcasts made on or after 1st May 1969||Copyright for 50 years after the end of the year of broadcast.|
For more detailed information about copyright duration, find the Information Sheet titled Duration of Copyright on the website of the Australian Copyright Council.
On 1st January 2007, the copyright law was changed to allow individuals to copy audio from one format to another format, as long as the original media is legitimately owned by the individual. The law is complicated, and there's more to it than that, but for example, if you own a CD, you are legally allowed to make an MP3 file of it, or copy it to audio cassette. If you own an LP record, you are allowed to copy it to a CD.
Unfortunately, the law explicitly forbids anyone offering to copy audio that is subject to copyright as a commercial service. Therefore,we are not able to copy your audio unless you own the copyright or have written permission from the owners of the copyright.
You want us to copy music from a CD, tape or LP record that was commercially released, even though it is no longer available to be purchased. You will need to obtain permission from both the publisher and the record company.
AMCOS may be able to assist with the publisher’s rights and ARIA may be able to assist with contacting the record company.
If, however, the recording was first published in 1954 and the composer of the music has been dead since 1954 or earlier, then the recording is in the public domain, and you do not need to obtain permission to have us copy it.
You have made a recording of your own performance of, for example, a Beatles song. You own the copyright of the recording and so there is no need to obtain permission from the record company. However, the song itself is still subject to copyright, and so you must pay royalties to the publisher. Contact AMCOS for more information.
You have an old LP record of a favourite classical concerto. The composer has been dead for longer than 70 years, so the music is in the public domain. However, the recording was made less than 70 years ago, and so copyright still exists in the recording. You must obtain permission from the record company before we can copy the record for you. ARIA may be able to help you contact the record company.
Most Christmas songs are traditional or old enough to be in the public domain. In either case, there is no copyright on the words or music. But even on these songs, copyright exists in any recording of those songs made in the last 70 years. And before you can photocopy or scan public domain songs from a music book, you will need permission from the publisher of the book, unless the book was published more than 70 years ago.
There are, however, a large number of Christmas songs that are still subject to copyright. A fairly comprehensive list of these songs can be found at APRA's web site.