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Distribution information guide: Digital downloads and ringtones

This information guide explains how the licence fees we collect from digital service providers like Apple iTunes are paid out as royalties.

Where does the money come from?

APRA AMCOS collects licence fees from digital service providers like Apple for music and ringtones offered for purchase via digital download.

What information does APRA AMCOS use to determine who should be paid?

Digital service providers send us detailed electronic files containing information relating to a downloaded song or album, and either the total sales value of the downloads in the reporting period (usually quarterly) or the sales value of each individual download and the total number of times it has been downloaded. This model represents a full census, direct allocation distribution process, as we are told exactly what songs or albums have been purchased so we can determine who should be paid based on the ownership details in our system.

How are songs matched to the data APRA AMCOS receives?

The records in the files received from digital service providers are directly matched to the vast repertoire of songs in our database. For songs that do not match automatically, a record is created in our database once the total combined APRA AMCOS royalty payable is more than $15 and this prompts our research team to carry out research and update the song information. Our research team prioritise songs with total combined APRA AMCOS royalty of $100 or more first. Unfortunately, it is not cost effective for staff to research every unmatched song.

Key terms used in our Distribution Rules and Practices document

The Copyright Act refers to compositions, musical scores in the form of sheet music, broadsheets or other notation as musical works. Lyrics or words to a song are considered literary works. When we refer to songs, we are referring to all the elements of a musical/literary work protected by copyright.

Full census:
the licensee provides complete reports detailing all songs played, broadcast or streamed.

Direct Allocation:
royalties are distributed via comprehensive reporting to ensure that all reported works (subject to any thresholds that may apply) share in the distribution of the corresponding licence fees).