APRA collects licence fees from Australian and New Zealand promoters of concerts and theatrical productions for the use of music in a dramatic context, on behalf of music publishers and songwriters, where those members have appointed us as agent.
What information does APRA AMCOS use to determine who should be paid?
APRA issues dramatic context licences for the use of particular songs in stage productions and this data is used to distribute licence fees by direct allocation.
It’s important to note that, unlike other types of licence such as broadcast radio, APRA does not necessarily have the right to represent all of our members’ or affiliate societies’ songs for the purpose of dramatic context. In some cases, our members or the original right holders might choose not to authorise APRA to include their songs in dramatic context licences. Therefore, before we can collect and distribute royalties for the use of a song in dramatic context, we need to know who wrote the song, and who the publishers are.
How are songs matched to the data APRA AMCOS receives?
Because APRA acts as agent only for the use of music in dramatic context, songs listed in each application are researched against the vast repertoire of songs in our database prior to the issue of a licence to ascertain whether APRA has the relevant rights.
How are the royalties calculated?
At the time of issuing a licence for a production, the licence fee for each song (or the relevant share of the song that APRA represents) or the pro rata share of the minimum fee per production is calculated. On payment, these calculations are then used to directly determine the royalty payable to the copyright owner of the work that has been used.
How often are royalties paid?
Distributions for Australian and New Zealand dramatic context are calculated and paid quarterly.
What about songs that cannot be identified or are the subject of a dispute?
Because APRA acts as agent only for copyright owners, it only licenses identified songs or shares of songs that it represents for dramatic context. If a song is subject to a dispute, the availability of the song for use in a stage production will depend on the position of the relevant copyright owners that are making a claim on the song.
Key terms used in our Distribution Rules and Practices document
Songs: 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.
Dramatic context: Defined by APRA AMCOS as: the performance of musical works: (a) in conjunction with a presentation on the live stage that has: i) a storyline; and ii) one of more narrators or characters; or (b) as a Ballet.
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.