Business News Legal Media

Australian music industry launches petition over radio royalty caps in copyright law

By | Published on Monday 5 June 2023


The music industry in Australia has launched a petition calling on lawmakers in the country’s Parliament to amend a quirk of Australian copyright law that puts a cap on what royalties radio stations pay to artists and labels.

In a briefing on its website, Australian record industry collecting society PPCA explains: “Section 152(8) of the Copyright Act 1968 limits the amount that Australian radio broadcasters can be required to pay to artists and labels to no more than 1% of the station’s gross annual revenue”.

And “Section 152(11) of the Copyright Act 1968 provides that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation cannot be required to pay more than half a cent per head of population for the broadcast of sound recordings across its radio network. Since the imposition of the radio caps in 1969, the amount payable by the ABC has not been adjusted to reflect any movements in the cost of living or the expansion of the ABC radio networks”.

In then adds: “These radio caps are well below the rates applicable in other similar territories around the world (including the UK and NZ) and unfairly limit the amounts paid to artists by radio broadcasters. PPCA believes that the caps undervalue the use of sound recordings so that artists are effectively subsidising the provision of content to the highly profitable commercial radio sector”.

The music industry has been campaigning to have the radio caps taken out of Australian law for years, and various independent reviews of the current system have recommended such a move.

The new petition on the Australian Parliament’s website – part of a PPCA-led campaign called Radio Fair Play – states: “Radio has built a successful business playing music, yet artists and rightsholders are not being paid a fair market rate when their music is played on the radio”.

“Artificial caps, set in the Copyright Act over 50 years ago, limit how much radio stations pay to play music (specifically sound recordings). There are no caps in any other form of copyright, and numerous reviews have recommended removal of these limits. The radio caps are unfair and anticompetitive. The caps should be removed allowing the market to determine an appropriate rate so artists and rightsholders are paid fairly for their music”.

With that in mind, the petition requests that Australia’s House Of Representatives “removes the broadcast radio caps on sound recordings from the Copyright Act to ensure artists and rightsholders are paid fairly for the use of their music”.

We await to see if the latest efforts by the music industry to remove the legal limitations on radio income are more successful than in the past.