Copyright liability for the playing of music on hold: Telstra Corporation Ltd. v Australasian Performing Right Association Ltd

William van Caenegem, Bond University

Document Type Response or Comment

Van Caenegem, William (1996). Copyright liability for the playing of music on hold: Telstra Corporation Ltd. v Australasian Performing Right Association Ltd. High Court Review, Vol. 2.

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Abstract

This is a test case brought by the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA), the asignee of copyright in musical and literary works for the purpose of the public performance rights (both live and mechanical), concerning the right of transmission to subscribers to a diffusion service (the diffusion right) and the broadcast right. The question to be determined is whether Telstra (or Telecom as it was called at the outset of proceedings) by providing certain music on hold services, is liable to APRA because of a breach of their diffusion and/or broadcast rights under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). APRA sought declaratory and injunctive relief to restrain Telstra from performing or authorizing the performance in public of certain works in which it owned (by partial assignment) the copyright, as well as from broadcasting them or transmitting them by cable to any subscriber to a telecommunications service provided by Telstra, and from authorizing or permitting any person to connect to the telecommunications network any equipment capable of transmitting the works to Telstra subscribers.