Do libraries need an APRA AMCOS licence for individuals listening to music on their publicly accessible computers?

No. Although a licence is needed to play music publicly at a library (e.g. over a loudspeaker or as part of a concert), a licence is not needed for public access computers on library premises.

A number of public libraries across Australia have been approached by copyright collecting society APRA AMCOS about obtaining a licence for public access computers on their premises, on the basis that individuals might use them to listen to music.

The State Library of New South Wales sought legal advice on the matter, which confirmed that individual listening does not constitute a performance in public under the Copyright Act 1968, and that libraries therefore do not need an APRA AMCOS licence for such activities on their public access computers.

This is different from the situation in which a library might be playing background music for its patrons or staff, or using its venues to host live music. Such activities do amount to a public performance of music, and a libraries should obtain a licence to permit them.

In response to outreach from Australian libraries, APRA AMCOS have amended their licensing policy and have undertaken to no longer approach libraries seeking licences for individual computers.

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