Copyright is free and automatic. That's right - you don’t have to do anything to ‘get’ copyright; it is there from the moment you write down the song. So as soon as you create a new song or piece of music, you have copyright in it. 

Here are some common misconceptions about what's needed to copyright your songs and compositions:

Myth: Creators need to have a copyright notice © on their work for it to be protected by copyright law.

Fact: The copyright notice © only shows who owns the song, not whether or not it is copyright. If the song has been recorded somehow it is protected by copyright even without the © mark.

Myth:  You need to mail your songs to yourself for copyright.

Fact: Sending yourself a recording of your song in the post doesn’t prove who wrote the song and it can’t be used as evidence in an ownership dispute. It only provides evidence that a song existed at the time it was mailed.

Myth: You need to register your songs with APRA AMCOS for copyright Fact: Copyright law protects your songs as soon as you’ve recorded them in some way. So if you've written them down, recorded them onto a CD, mp3, or even onto your phone, they are protected, even if they’re not registered with APRA AMCOS. 

 Copyright law enables creators to make a living from their work. The New Zealand Copyright Act gives songwriters and composers the right to control how their music is used. So whenever music is played in public, the songwriter or composer who wrote it might be entitled to royalties. This is where APRA AMCOS can help you.

We look after the performance, communication and mechanical copyright of songwriters, composers and music publishers in New Zealand. We act as a link between those who create and own this copyright material, and those who want to use it.

What is a performance right?

Songwriters and composers own the right to have their original music performed in public. So…they control the right to:

  • play their songs/compositions live at a venue or an event
  • play a recording of their songs/compositions in a business, venue or workplace
  • have their songs/compositions used in a film or advertisement

What is a communication right?

Songwriters and composers own the right to have their original music communicated to the public. So they control the right to:

  • have their song/composition broadcast by television and radio stations
  • have their song communicated to the public online
  • have their song used via an on-hold telephone system 

What is a mechanical right?

Songwriters and composers own the right to have their songs and compositions reproduced or copied. So they control the right to:

  • have their music used for a film’s soundtrack
  • have their music copied onto a CD, DVD or reproduced online for sale 
  • have their lyrics and music reproduced as sheet music

If you write and own songs that are performed, broadcast or recorded in some way AND you join APRA AMCOS, we can: 

  • Give permission for your music to be used commercially by radio and TV stations, film makers, record companies, advertisements, websites, ringtones, pubs, clubs, restaurants, schools, TAFEs, universities and at festivals and concerts.
  • Collect payments from these businesses for using your music
  • Pay you the royalties you are due
Join us!

Looking for more info on copyright?

Check out these links:

APRA AMCOS & Recorded Music NZ – what’s the difference?

While APRA AMCOS administers the copyright of songs and compositions (most easily described as what can be written as sheet music), Recorded Music NZ administers the ‘sound recording’ copyrights of music for record companies and their recording artists.

For more information regarding Recorded Music NZ, visit www.recordedmusic.co.nz


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Do you write music? Then you should become a member of APRA AMCOS.

It's free to join, and once you do we can help you make money from your music.

We offer flexible membership, depending on how your music is used. You'll also join a collective music community of 87,000 songwriters and composers.

We exist to support you, our members.
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