Associations and institutions are welcome to apply to become members of the ALCC.
Licensing is a common way for copyright owners to grant permission to others to use their copyright material on specified terms.
If you want to use material that is owned by someone else you usually need permission. In copyright law permission is often issued as a licence.
You can do anything you have permission to do and the most common form of permission is a copyright licence. If you have a licence to use the material from the copyright owner, and your use is within the scope of the licence, then you have not infringed copyright. The good thing about licences is that you don’t have to know the law – you just have to follow directions. Our information on copyright licensing link to Copyright licensing provides more comprehensive information about copyright licences.
Common terms in a licence relate to the duration (time period the licence lasts for), geography (the territory the licence applies to) and whether the uses granted by the licence are permitted on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. A licence does not have to be in writing but it is obviously easier to evidence if it is.
If direct permission from the copyright owner is one-to-one, then blanket licences are one-to-many. They provide a licensee with permission to undertake specified uses a body of copyright protected material on pre-set terms.
Compulsory statutory licences allow copyright users to use copyright material where they may a specified royalty amount and comply with the terms of the licence. They came about to address impracticalities in copyright licensing such as high transaction costs incurred to identify and negotiate with individual copyright owners.
The Copyright Agency administer the Statutory Education Licence scheme and the Statutory Government Licence which allows educational and public sector organisations to copy and communicate books, magazines, newspapers, artistic works and other content. Screenrights manages copying and communication of television and other broadcasts in educational and public sector organisations as well as the retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts by cable TV providers.
However, a statutory licence is not required in situations where an exception to copyright applies or you have permission from the copyright owner directly.
One example of blanket licensing is licences issued by a collective rights management body – often called collecting societies and sometimes called collective management organisations (CMOs) – who represent groups of copyright owners and manage aspects of their copyright collectively. In Australia we have a number of collecting societies including:
- APRA AMCOS (Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society) – a collecting society that is authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to exclusively licence music by Australian and New Zealand members in a number of situations
- Copyright Agency – a collecting society that licences written content and images by Australian members through the Educational Statutory Licensing scheme, the Government Statutory Licensing scheme and a number of other situations.
- PPCA (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited) – a collecting society that licences recorded music for playback in public.
- Screenrights – a collecting society that licences screen content by Australian members for use by educational institutions in Australia and New Zealand and state and federal governments.
There are other collective rights bodies in Australia including the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society (ASDACS), the Australian Writers Guild Authorship Collecting Society (AWGACS) and Christian Copyright Licensing International.
In Australia, many of the collecting societies voluntarily comply with the Code of Conduct for Collecting Societies in Australia.
There are also a number of open content licensing schemes that grant licences to the whole world to reuse copyright material on specified terms. Creative Commons (CC) is one of the most well known of the open content licensing schemes. CC provides free, standardised licences which copyright owners can use to make their copyright material available to the public.
There are other types of open content licensing such as open source software.
What happens if a contract and an exception conflict? Unfortunately, in Australia, no one knows – there is no clear answer under the law. Best practice is to obey the licence except in special circumstances (e.g. licences that ban disability access).