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Licensing for universities

How universities are licensed for music use

APRA AMCOS, together with ARIA and PPCA have a licence agreement, called the Tertiary Music Agreement, in place with Universities Australia to cover all 39 member universities for a broad range of music uses.

The same basic cover applies to all 39 universities, however universities have the option of additional rights to copy sheet music.

The agreement is very broad, but it is important to understand its limitations.

Activities covered by the licence

Playing or performing live or recorded music:

  • At university events where the ticket price does not exceed $40
  • At graduation ceremonies (no limit on ticket price)
  • As background music in university spaces and businesses that are 100% owned by the university or an affiliated institution
  • In fitness centres and childcare centres that are open only to staff and students
  • By student unions, associations, guilds and clubs that are 100% owned by the university, so long as those activities are permitted within the agreement
  • For educational purposes

Making audio and video recordings that capture live and recorded music:

  • Of university events and graduations
  • To live stream university events and performances on the university’s website and official social media channels*
  • To use for university purposes, including in a course of instruction or for engaging with the university community
  • By synchronising music with unrelated visual elements in post-production, ie: incorporating recorded music into another unrelated visual work*
  • To be shared on the university’s website or learning management system*
  • As on hold music for the university telephone system

* Please note: sharing videos online is subject to some important limitations that are set out below

The optional print music licence available in the Tertiary Music Licence covers universities that have opted into the licence to:

  • Reproduce print music, lyrics and tablature in physical or digital formats for use by students and staff for educational purposes or performance at a university event.
  • Store digital copies of sheet music on university platforms
  • Share digital and physical copies with students and staff

Note: These rights are a summary only. Please consult with your university’s Copyright Officer for the full list of rights and limitations.

Activities that are not covered under the licence

Play and perform live or recorded music:

  • At university events where the ticket price exceeds $40
  • In a Dramatic Context

Perform in its entirety:

  • A Grand Right Work. Grand Right Works are productions where the music and lyrics have been expressly written for the production, eg: Cats or Wicked
  • A choral work longer than 20 minutes in duration
  • Share videos on university social media channels that capture ARIA sound recordings being played at university events and performances
  • Share videos on the university website or social media channels where a sound recording has been synchronised with unrelated visual elements in post-production (eg: where a slide show of photos from O-Week or a virtual tour of the campus is overlaid with a sound recording)
  • Make any audio or video recordings available for download
  • Make or share audio or video recordings for commercial activities, commercial research, advertising, promotion of any third-party business, organisation, product or service.

The optional Print Music Licence does not include the right to:

  • Make copies, transcriptions or transpositions of AMCOS Works from any score other than a legal original owned by the University
  • Make arrangements of AMCOS Works, including but not limited to changes of harmonic structure, melody or instrumentation
  • Make alterations of any kind to the lyrics associated with an AMCOS Work
  • Sell, hire or otherwise make available any copies made under the licence

Note: These limitations are a summary only. Please consult with your university’s Copyright Officer for the full list of rights and limitations.

Your guide to music copyright at universities

Staff and students at universities often use music in ways that require consideration of copyright. Whether you are using music in a lecture, delivering a class online, or organising a concert or event with live or recorded music, it is important to understand the rights of the music creators and how to ensure you are covered to use it.

This information guide covers:

  • Copyright basics
  • Rights and limitations covered by the Tertiary Music Agreement
  • Music use on campus and at events
  • Music use in university businesses and student associations
  • Music use online
  • Use of sheet music
  • Making arrangements

Get to know your Copyright Officer

Every university has a copyright officer or representative who is the best port of call to assist in navigating copyright questions.

Find a list of Copyright Officers on Universities Australia’s website.