Earlier today, one of the local hiphop folk I follow popped up on Twitter with this interesting wee question... "Do DJ's that sell their records after converting them to MP3 realise they are breaching copyright laws?" (from Sen Thong aka Khmer1 - thanks for bringing this up!)
I did a quick Google search (and asked on Twitter) and uncovered section 81a of the current copyright law (as passed in late 2008), which says that you can copy say, vinyl to MP3 but "You must retain ownership of both the sound recording and any copy". This also applies to you if you sell off your CDs after digitising them for your iPod.
Prior to this becoming law in October 2008, it was illegal in NZ to copy your cds/vinyl to MP3.
Now, here's the interesting part - "the copy is used only for that owner’s personal use or the personal use of a member of the household in which the owner lives or both".
So, say you're a club DJ, and you've digitised your vinyl and then sold it, and are playing in a club one Saturday night, are you breaking the law?
Sure, you're no different from the iPod-toting hordes who bought the Apple device, digitised their CDs then sold them at Real Groovy (I asked on Twitter if any of the folk following me had digitised their CDs then sold them - they had mostly kept them as a backup, although a few regretted just how much space their music collections consumed). But as a DJ, you're not using those MP3s for personal use only. Does APRA/
Curious to find out more on this one. Any music lawyers care to weigh in?
ADDED Have put in requests for information on this to APRA and RIANZ/PPNZ. Stay tuned. It may take a while to get a response as the NZ Music Awards are on this week.
UPDATE 1: This response is from Mark Roach, General Manager Licensing, at Phonographic Performances New Zealand (PPNZ). Thanks for the prompt reply, Mark.
"PPNZ has always taken the approach that DJs format shifting for the purposes of effciency and backing up large music collections, especially vinyl, is a legitimate part of being a DJ and does not require licensing.
Premises should have a PPNZ Public Performance Licence which would cover them for the playing of all music on their premises, i.e. whether by a DJ, by the premises’ own background music system or other. This licence is the responsibility of the premises – not the DJ. If DJs have any concerns about a particular premises, they are always welcome to check the premises status with our licensing reps (email@example.com or 0800 88 PPNZ).
The only proviso we have is that DJs are only using music for their own DJ sets, i.e. if they are servicing their music collections to premises for use as a regular background music system, or to other DJs as a business service then they would require licensing as a music service provider.
I’m not sure the same rule applies with AMCOS (who look after the reproduction of musical works) but they can better advise you this themselves.
One small correction to the blog also – licensing of sound recording copyrights is the domain of PPNZ, not RIANZ (the two organisations are not the same thing)."
UPDATE 2: This response from Rebekah Nolan at AMCOS/APRA...
"Any copying of music over and above the personal use is not covered by the [Copyright] Act and needs to be licensed...
... there are two copyrights that need to be licensed: the underlying musical work (or "publishing" rights); and the sound recording (or "master" rights). APRA|AMCOS represents songwriters and composers so we can issue licences for the publishing rights, whereas PPNZ can issue licences for sound recordings.
APRA|AMCOS has a Casual Blanket Licence for compiling and supplying audio recordings for the purpose of providing a background music service. If you are transferring music from one source (e.g. vinyl, CD or digital download to a hardrive or mp3 player) then you will need this licence.
If you are simply playing existing CDs/vinyl on a turntable, or your downloads are going directly to the hardrive or mp3 player that you use for gigs, then you won't need this licence as there is no actual format shift involved."
As for my original question (in full) "you're club DJ, and you've digitised your vinyl and then sold it, and are playing in a club one Saturday night, are you breaking the law?" The copyright law is pretty clear on that. "You must retain ownership of both the sound recording and any copy". Boom.
UPDATE 4: Okay, I've crossed out the first part of update 3, as it's been pointed out to me that it's incorrect. I'm still seeking further clarification on the answer in full from AMCOS/APRA.
So to the question "you're a club DJ, and you've digitised your vinyl and are playing in a club one Saturday night (public use as opposed to personal use), are you breaking the law?"
There's a few parts to this. The performance rights are covered by performance licences paid by the venue to APRA (songwriting rights) and PPNZ (sound recording rights).
On the copying for public performance, Im still awaiting clarification. But, it appears that AMCOS/APRA require you (the DJ) to pay a licence if you want to transfer your vinyl to MP3 and play it in public.
UPDATE 5: I've got further clarification from APRA/AMCOS on this. AMCOS/APRA do require you (the DJ) to pay a licence if you want to transfer your vinyl to MP3 and play it in public.
From APRA/AMCOS: "A DJ who digitises their vinyl to mp3, then goes and DJs at a bar or club, needs to get a licence to do so, as they have made a reproduction of the works from one format to another and are then using that system in a commercial venture (not just for personal use).
If they are currently playing in a club using mp3s digitised from their own vinyl without a licence, they are in breach of copyright. APRA/AMCOS follow up and have the authority to issue infringement notices, and educate.
This position is in distinct contrast to PPNZ's more pragmatic take , which is that "PPNZ has always taken the approach that DJs format shifting for the purposes of effciency and backing up large music collections, especially vinyl, is a legitimate part of being a DJ and does not require licensing."