Copyright on music you use in your business

Whether you're a café playing music in the background, or a personal trainer running a fitness class with music to keep your clients in rhythm, if you're using music in your business, you need to make sure you have the right permissions.

Playing music in your business

Playing the right kind of music in your business can help you:

1. set the atmosphere of your retail space

2. sell your business's brand and theme

3. attract the right customers.

Your business may also use music as part of your service, for example, providing music as a part of the wedding package you offer.

Copyright for music in Australia

In Australia, music is automatically protected by copyright from the time an original work is created - it doesn't need to be registered in order to be protected.

This means that only the copyright owners of the music have certain rights to the music, including the right to:

1. make copies of the music

2. perform or play the music in public

3. communicate the music to the public (e.g. broadcasting or making it available online)

4. decide how their music may be used by others.

The copyright applies to music created in Australia and most other countries.

Read the factsheet on Music & Copyright from the Australian Copyright Council.

The Attorney General's website also has a short guide to copyright .

Licensing for music in your business

If you're using music for any purpose in your business, you should make sure you have the right licences.

This includes having live music, using music in the background to create atmosphere, or even using music in the background of short advertising videos for social media.

Even if you have paid for a music track, it may not automatically give you the right to use it. You need to check the terms and conditions of your purchase to see what it is licensed for.

Certain organisations can offer blanket licenses that will give you the rights to play a number of approved tracks in your business.

Search the Australian Business Licensing and Information service (ABLIS) to work out what kind of licences you need and where you can obtain the licences.

What can happen if I don't get licences for the music I use?

If you're found to be breaching copyright, a range of penalties can apply, from fines to imprisonment.

To avoid incurring such penalties, it is recommended that you get the right licences before using music in your business.

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