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Music and Sound Recordings


Unlike the school sector, the TAFE sector has not entered into blanket licences with the music collecting societies for the use of musical works or sound recordings.  This is because TAFE’s use of music is relatively low in comparison, for example, to schools.    While occasional educational use of music does occur in TAFE, music is more likely to be performed for non-educational uses such as background music in hair-dressing salons, or in student operated restaurants on campus. 

This chapter addresses arrangements that TAFEs should consider for non-educational use of music, and other alternatives that are free or low cost in comparison to commercial licences.  It also explains how educational uses of music can be treated under exceptions in the Copyright Act.

Obtaining Licences

The relevant organisations that provide licences for educational institutions to use music are the Australasian Performing Right Association / Australian Mechanical Copyright Owner Society (APRA/AMCOS) and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited (PPCA).


Phone: 1300 852 388

Email: licence@apra.com.au

Website: www.apraamcos.com.au


Phone: (02) 8569 1111

Email: licensing.mail@ppca.com.au

Website: www.ppca.com.au


Whether both organisations need to be approached for licences will depend upon a TAFE’s use of music.  At the time of writing this chapter, both organisations are developing a unified licensing service called One Music, which is proposed to be available late 2018.  However, the National Copyright Unit (NCU) has not been consulted in the development of One Music.  TAFE’s should contact the NCU before they consider entering into a One Music licensing arrangement.

For more information about using free music in TAFE, see the Smartcopying website at: www.smartcopying.edu.au/open-education/open-education-resources/where-to-find-cc-licensed-material/where-to-find-cc-licensed-music

For more information about licensing music in TAFE, see the Smartcopying website at: www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/apra-amcos-ppca-non-educational-use-music-licenses-for-tafes 

Educational Use of Music in TAFE

What is Music?

Music, or musical works, include songs, melodies, jingles, film scores.  Sound recordings refers to content on vinyl records, CD, DVD, cassettes, MP3 files, etc. 

Performing and Communicating Music for Educational Use

In the absence of a licence, teachers and students can perform and communicate music in class (including virtual classes and distance education students) under a special exception in section 28 of the Copyright Act. To rely upon this section, the music must be used in a course of education that is not for profit, and the people involved in the course must be providing or receiving instruction or be directly connected with the place where the instruction is given. 

What is performing and communicating?

Music is ‘performed’ where it is visually or aurally represented.  For example, playing sound recordings in any format (e.g. from CD, DVD, cassettes, digital music from iTunes, Google Play Store), or staging a performance of a play.

Communicating means making copyright material available online or electronically transmitting copyright material. 'Making available' can include putting material on the internet or intranet. 'Electronic transmission' includes emailing, streaming or electronic reticulation.

Communicating doesn’t include playing or streaming live television or radio programmes; or bookmarking and sharing links to content on the Internet.  These activities are not copyright activities and therefore don’t require a licence or permission.

Therefore, under section 28, teachers and students can do the following in class:

  • sing songs and play instruments;
  • play sound recordings (e.g. using a tape/CD/DVD player, electronic reticulation system learning management system, interactive whiteboard or virtual classroom software); and
  • play a film which contains music using a DVD player, electronic reticulation system or from a DTE.

Section 28 does not permit teachers and students to play a sound recording or a film to the parents of students or for non-teaching purposes, such as at a graduation, fashion show, or concert.  For more information about what is and isn’t allowed under section 28, see the Smartcopying website at: www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/performance-and-communication-of-works-and-audio-visual-material-in-tafe-classes-what-am-i-allowed-to-do-

Copying and Communicating Music for Educational Use

Similarly, the flexible dealing exception under section 200AB (section 200AB) of the Copyright Act also permits teachers to use sound recordings for educational purposes, where other statutory licences and other education free use exceptions such as fair dealing or exam copying are not available.

Common situations where the flexible dealing exception might be applicable to music in TAFEs under section 200AB include:

  • format shifting from vinyl, cassette or CD into digital format such as mp3; and
  • uploading sound recordings onto password protected content repositories such as a DTE, provided the digital copy can only be viewed by teachers and students who are directly giving or receiving the instruction for which the copy has been made (i.e. accessible by students of one course rather than the entire student population).

For more information about section 200AB, including context specific examples, see Appendix B

For further information on educational use of music in TAFE, see the Smartcopying website at: www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/educational-use-of-music-in-tafe

Using Digital Music Stores / Players for Educational Purposes

When buying digital content from online stores, such as the iTunes Store, Google Play or Amazon, you must agree to the store’s Terms of Use. The iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Terms of Use state that products purchased from the store can only be used for ‘personal, non-commercial use’. This expression may not include ‘educational use’.

It is arguable whether these terms are enforceable and can prevent TAFEs from making educational use of the content. Therefore, while there may be a risk that a TAFE might be said to be in breach of contract if it uses music downloaded from an online store for educational purposes, it would not infringe copyright if the section 200AB or section 28 exceptions in the Copyright Act applied.

Section 28 enables teachers to play sound recordings from the music library in their computer or tablet to students in the classroom, and from digital music players such as iTunes, Windows Media Player, Google Play Music or Amazon Music.  This also applies to recordings from compact disc or other similar sources.  Section 200AB also permits you to ‘rip’ or import tracks from a CD in limited circumstances.  This is also called ‘format shifting’. 

Practical Alternatives to Buying Digital Music Online

There are better and cheaper alternatives to buying music online or being limited to very narrow uses of music in limited circumstances.  Please consider some of the options below. 

Creative Commons Music

There are several websites that publish digital music that is licensed under Creative Commons.  Creative Commons licensed material can be copied for educational purposes because the copyright owner has already given permission to use their music.

A primary advantage of using Creative Commons licensed material is that access need not be restricted to the students of one course.

The following websites contain Creative Commons licensed music:

Remember to comply with the terms and conditions of the applicable Creative Commons licence.

For more sources of Creative Commons licensed music, see the Smartcopying website at: http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/open-education/open-education-resources/where-to-find-cc-licensed-material/where-to-find-cc-licensed-music

Using Free iTunes Content

The iTunes store contains a variety of free content.  This includes music, TV shows, films, podcasts and applications.  This content can be streamed direct from the iTunes store or downloaded into your iTunes player, without payment, and used for educational purposes. 

A user is not required to accept the iTunes Terms of Use when downloading free content.  As a result, it is unlikely that the iTunes Terms of Use will affect how the content can be used. 

Teachers should try to use free iTunes content instead of purchased iTunes content wherever possible to minimise the risk that they are breaching the conditions of use.

Audio Network Music

Audio Network is an online store where sound recordings can be purchased and licensed for a modest price to suit the needs of an institute.   For further information on Audio Network, see:  www.audionetwork.com

Non PPCA/APRA Music for TAFE’s

Some copyright owners offer an alternative and cheaper licence than those offered by APRA/AMCOS and the PPCA for non-educational uses. 

For more information about open and non PPCA/APRA music licences, including sources of openly licensed music, see the Smartcopying Website at: www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/open-and-non-ppca-apra-music-for-non-educational-purposes-of-tafes