by Jeremy Malcolm, Internet lawyer
Not long ago I was contacted by one of the parties involved in the recently-publicised raids on a Perth ISP by music industry giants, in which the ISP in question is alleged to have allowed its servers to be used for unauthorised peer-to-peer trading of music files using the BitTorrent file sharing network.
Without going into detail and identifying my client, the essential question was, "How do I go about obtaining a licence to legally transmit music over the Internet?"
Since there are so many composers and performers of music, it would be a nightmare to obtain permission for the use of their music from them all separately, so most of them have appointed a copyright collection agency to license the use of their music for them. For compositions the agency is called APRA and for recordings it is called AMCOS, but the two operate together. Their Web site may be found at http://www.apra.com.au.
There are many different licence fees for different types of use, ranging from playing music in a shop to sampling it in a new recording, and fees also vary depending on the type of user. To take the example of operating an Internet radio station, the licence fee ranges from $1122 per quarter for a commercial operator, down to $112.20 per quarter for a non-profit station is operated by a private individual where the station's URL is registered in their name.
What if you can't afford those fees and still want music on your Web site? Then you will have to find music that APRA and AMCOS do not control, and that is available to use under a royalty-free licence. You can find links to such music from Creative Commons.