Last updated 24 August 2016

As many individual copyright owners are not in a position to enforce their copyright by policing the copying of their works, copyright owners often enlist copyright-collecting societies to license the use of their works and collect payments on their behalf. Collecting societies are non-profit organisations and membership is optional. If a copyright owner chooses to become a member of a relevant collecting society, they assign certain rights to that particular society. In so doing, the collecting society has the authority to:

  • license specific use of copyright material
  • collect any fees payable for such licences from copyright users
  • distribute fees (less administrative costs) to copyright owners.

There are a number of copyright-collecting societies in Australia.

Copyright Agency Limited

Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) is the collecting society for copyright owners of literary works such as publishers and writers. This agency is responsible for licensing photocopying by educational institutions and various other bodies. Copyright Agency Limited acts as an agent for its members and affiliated reproduction rights organisations overseas to administer and protect copyright owners’ reproduction rights. The agency also conducts the business of Viscopy, the collecting society for the visual arts. It now licenses the reproductions of visual or graphic artistic works on behalf of visual artists including craft workers, photographers, sculptors, multimedia artists and designers, and it also administers the resale royalty scheme, which was established in Australia in 2010.


Screenrights is the collecting society for film producers and distributors, script writers and music copyright owners. Screenrights collects royalties on behalf of producers, distributors, rights holders in scripts, music, artistic works and sound recordings and other rights holders in film and television programs. Screenrights also administers the statutory licence that allows educational institutions to copy radio, television broadcasts and, more recently, other uses of audio-visual material.

It also has a licence with the Australian Government that allows government departments to copy from television and radio, provided they pay a fee to the rights holders.

Australasian Performing Rights Association Ltd

Australasian Performing Rights Association Ltd (APRA) licenses the broadcast, public performance and cable transmission of live and recorded musical works and accompanying lyrics. The association’s members consist of composers and music publishers.

Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Ltd

Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Ltd (AMCOS) (same website as APRA above) licenses certain recording of music and lyrics, and photocopying of sheet music by schools. The members of AMCOS are music publishers.

Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd

Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd (PPCA) licenses the broadcast and public performance of sound recordings (which are protected separately to any music and lyrics on the recording). The members of the PPCA are owners of copyright in sound recordings, principally record companies.