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Music and Sound Recordings


  1. There are three separate music licences that regulate the use of musical works and sound recordings within the school sector. The APRA Licence – for the public performance and communication of Musical Works by Schools
  2. The AMCOS Licence – for the photocopying of Printed Musical Works by Schools
  3. The AMCOS/ARIA/APRA Licence – for the reproduction and communication of Musical Works and Sound Recordings by Educational Institutions

This manual will focus on the AMCOS/ARIA/APRA Licence as it is the most relevant to the use of music in DTEs. For information about the two other music licenses please see the Educational Licenses section of Smartcopying (https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/copyright-guidelines/education-licences-(statutory-and-voluntary-licences))

The AMCOS/APRA/ARIA licence covers the use of sound recordings (ie recorded music) in schools and at school events, and the making audio and video recordings of school events involving music, for non-commercial, educational and commemorative purposes.

Which schools are covered by this Licence?

All government primary and secondary schools, and most Catholic and independent primary and secondary schools, are covered by this licence.  If you are unsure if your school is covered, find your peak body’s representative here and contact them to check.


What schools covered by this Licence may do:

Make Sound Recordings

Schools are permitted to make copies of sound recordings (eg copies of tracks from CD, or copies of digital music files) for the educational purposes of the school in any format:

  • to be played at a school event (eg copying music to CD or MP3 to play at an event)
  • for inclusion in an electronic presentation ( eg classroom PowerPoint slides, or in presentations at assemblies or functions)
  • to play in class for educational purposes (eg to play music recordings relevant to material being studied)
  • to be used as part of a course of instruction (eg when teaching how to make or use sound recordings in music or multimedia classes)
  • to synchronise with recordings made of a school event (eg to add a musical soundtrack to a video recording of a school assembly, presentation night or sports day).


Make Video and audio Recordings

Schools and the school community are permitted to make video and audio recordings of school events at which live or recorded music is played – eg parents and friends can make a video of a presentation night at which the school band played.


Note however that parents and friends are only able to use these recordings for their private and domestic use (ie they are not permitted to upload the recordings onto Facebook, YouTube, etc.).

Upload to a DTE

Schools with a password protected DTE are permitted to:

  • upload the copies of sound recordings (see ‘Make Sound Recordings’ above); and
  • upload audio or video recordings of school events described above (see Make Video and audio Recordings' above), and
  • stream to staff and students.

For example, you can upload copies of CD tracks to the school DTE so that you can play them in class, or upload a video of a school concert for access by staff and students.

Make a Live Communication – ie "Webcast" school events – over the Internet

Schools are permitted to:

  • make a live communication – ie stream in real time – a recording of a school event from the school’s website to the internet (ie not just within the school's intranet). 

This communication must be streamed as the event is occurring. You cannot leave a recording of the event available on the school website or anywhere else on the internet once the event is finished.

However you can move a recording of the event onto the school's password protected content repository for access by staff and students, as discussed under 'Upload to a DTE' above.

For example, you can stream video of a presentation day at which school bands are playing from the school website as the event is occurring, and once the event has finished a recording can be stored on the school intranet for teachers and students to access.

For further information please see the AMCOS/APRA/ARIA Licence information sheet: https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/copyright-guidelines/education-licences-(statutory-and-voluntary-licences)/education-licence-e-amcos-aria-apra-licence

What the Licence does not cover:

This licence does not permit you to:

  • place copyright-infringing copies of music on your school content repository – this means you should not work with any music you suspect is 'pirated'
  • make a video recording of a Grand Rights Works (or a choral work of over 20 minutes duration) in its entirety (eg this licence doesn't permit you to produce a DVD of a school musical)
  • make a public broadcast of any recording (for example, via a publicly accessible school radio station or online radio or video portal) – the only "broadcast" you can make is a live stream from your school website, as discussed under 'Make a Live Communication' above
  • upload any recordings to the internet for download by members of the public
  • remix, sample or segue any sound recordings (although this may be permitted to some extent under the 'fair dealing' and 'flexible dealing' exceptions in the Act – see our information sheets on copyright exceptions and flexible dealing for more details)
  • publically perform musical works (this may be covered by the APRA licence).

Other Relevant Exceptions

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 the course of educational instruction (e.g. teaching, preparing to teach) 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. 

Copying and Communicating Music for Educational Use

This section may be relied on by schools not covered by the APRA/AMCOS/ARIA Licence.

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 Schools 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) and are taken down once no longer needed.

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

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 unclear whether these terms are enforceable and can prevent Schools from making educational use of the content for educational purposes. However, while there may be a risk that a School could be said to be in breach of contract if it uses music downloaded from an online store for educational purposes, we think the better view is that 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: https://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 arguable that the iTunes Terms of Use will not affect how the content can be used. 

For this reason, 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 In any event, even if the terms of use do apply, if either the section 200AB or section 28 exceptions in the Copyright Act also apply, as noted above we think the better view is that copyright is not infringed.

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