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Copyright at UNSW

Events and public performances

Copyright owners have exclusive rights to perform their work in public or cause the work to be seen or heard in public, and there is no exception to this right for educational institutions. Public performance is different for each type of work and can include reading a literary work aloud, displaying artworks in a gallery, a theatrical performance or screening a film.

In general, permission must be sought from copyright owners if materials to be performed, seen or heard publicly, unless UNSW already has a licence. 

Certain performances within an academic classroom, lecture or tutorial are not considered a public performance. For more information see Copyright for teaching.  

Music in public

UNSW has a Tertiary Music Licence from the music copyright collecting societies (APRA/AMCOS, PPCA and ARIA) that allows for the use of music in certain ways without the need to seek separate licence or permission.
See Universities Australia guide on the Music Licence Agreement (791KB PDF) for more detailed information.

The Tertiary Music Licence permits UNSW to:

  • Perform live music and sound recordings as featured or background music at UNSW events (on or off campus) where admission is either free or ticket price does not exceed $40 (plus GST).
  • Perform live music or sound recordings as background music at UNSW owned and operated spaces.  
  • Perform live music and sound recordings at UNSW events that are organised and authorised by the University, on or off campus, for university purposes.
  • Perform live music and play sound recordings for educational purposes. 
  • Play music on hold for UNSW phone system
  • Play music in the workplace for the benefit of University staff.

There are conditions regarding the performance of music under this licence. For more information about the conditions and permitted uses of the music licence, see Music and sound recordings.

Films and videos in public

Permission from the copyright owner is required to screen a video or film publicly at UNSW, regardless of whether the event is free or not. There are no exceptions in the Copyright Act 1968 and UNSW does not have any existing licences that would cover the screening of a video or film in public.

Find out how films and videos can be used for educational purposes.

Dramatic works in public

Permission from the copyright owner is required for the public performance of a dramatic work. Permission may also be required from the copyright owners of associated materials, such as accompanying music or set designs.

In some circumstances the accompanying music in a public performance of a dramatic work may be covered by UNSW’s Tertiary Music Licence. However, if the performance has music, dialogue, costumes and sets, grand rights must be obtained from the copyright owner as the copyright collecting societies do not have the authority to license these performances.

Graduation ceremonies

The Tertiary Music Licence allows for music to be performed, both live and recorded music as featured or background music at ticketed Graduation Ceremonies (with no threshold for ticket prices).  Graduation ceremonies must be organised and authorised by the University, it can be held on or off campus. 

Videos of graduation ceremonies can be:

  • Streamed online for up to 30 days after the graduation ceremony date.  
    After the 30 days they must be only available via a password protected University Platform (i.e. Moodle).
  • Sold in a physical format (i.e. DVD) to the University community (staff, students and immediate family) for their own private use, either at no cost or cost recovery only
  • Stored on password protected University Platform (i.e. Moodle)


Using small portions of copyright material in conference presentations may be covered by exceptions in the Copyright Act 1968. However, in general, permission from the copyright owner is required. Permission from the copyright owner will also be required if the conference presentation will be recorded, published or made available online. For more information, see Copyright and conferences.

Artwork on display

Artworks are publicly displayed at UNSW in outdoor areas, lobbies, offices and libraries, including fifteen sculptures in the grounds of Kensington campus. The collection includes assemblages, ceramics, collages, decorative art, drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures and textiles.

UNSW art collection manages the collection and can provide guidance on issues of copyright and licensing for the display of artworks.

Need help?

UNSW staff and students can contact for assistance with a copyright query or to arrange a copyright information session.