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Non-educational performances

Performing copyright material for non-educational purposes
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One of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights is the right to perform copyright material in public. Any performance outside the home is generally considered to be a public performance.

Copyright owners have the exclusive right to control the public performance of the following types of copyright material:

  • literary works (eg novels, song lyrics)
  • dramatic works (eg plays, ballets)
  • musical works (ie notated music)
  • sound recordings (eg recorded music on a CD)
  • films (eg a TV documentary on a DVD)

If you wish to perform any of this copyright material in public (eg play music from a CD or show a film from a DVD), you will usually have to obtain permission from the copyright owner to do so, unless an exception applies or the University already has a licence permitting the use.

If you want to perform this copyright material only to University staff and students for educational purposes, visit For educators for further information.

Is your performance covered by the Music Licence?
  • The University’s licence agreement with the main music copyright collecting societies in Australia covers, among other things, certain public performances of live and recorded music represented by them (Music Licence).

    Under the Music Licence:

    • University staff and students can perform music in the collecting societies’ repertoires at University events provided no entry fee is charged
    • the University can play music in the workplace for its employees (ie University teaching, administration and other staff offices (including services departments) can play background music (such as music from CDs or the radio))

    What is a University event under the Music Licence?

    Under the Music Licence, a University event includes student recitals, open days, graduation ceremonies, seminars, lectures and exhibition openings. The event must be organised by the University and can be held at the University or some other venue.

    The Music Licence does not cover the following:

    • box office (ie ticketed) events where an entry fee is charged
    • occasions when University premises are hired to students or other individuals, or external organisations
    • music use by student-run groups (eg student clubs or societies), student unions and on-campus shops, cafes, restaurants and bars

    The people responsible for these activities will need to arrange their own music licensing.


    Music performances excluded from the Music Licence

    The Music Licence does not include performances of the following types of music:

    • “Grand Right Works” – a show where the lyrics and music are written expressly for it (eg large scale choral works of more than 20 minutes’ duration, operas, operettas, musical plays, ballets, revues and pantomimes)
    • music performed in a dramatic context (ie using dramatic elements such as costumes, sets and dancing) where the music was not specially written for the production
    • arrangements of music or lyric changes
    • music used in films that are screened to the public
Performances not covered by the Music Licence
  • In relation to:

    • performances for non-educational purposes of music and lyrics that are performances not covered by the Music Licence; and
    • performances for non-educational purposes of other literary works, dramatic works and films,

    you will need to obtain a licence from the rights holder or the organisation that represents them.

    The contact details for some of the most common activities are listed below:



    If you are arranging for a third party to use a University venue and copyright material will be performed at the venue, check that the third party has obtained permission to perform the material and the correct licences are in place.

    For further information, see the Australian Copyright Council’s Music: Concerts, Musicals & Plays information sheet.


This information is provided as general information only. It provides a basic introduction to copyright and is not intended to be comprehensive.