Understanding Music Licensing in Malaysia: A Guide for Business Owners

Understanding Music Licensing in Malaysia: A Guide for Business Owners

Music licensing in Malaysia is a critical consideration for business owners who use music in their establishments, such as restaurants, retail stores, gyms, or any other commercial spaces.

Music has the ability to increase customer loyalty as it immensely enhances the ambience and harmonises the themed décor, creating a welcoming atmosphere. Subsequently, customer satisfaction will indirectly grow as it provides a relaxing backdrop that encourages repeat business.

However, curating the perfect playlist for a business involves more than just selecting appealing tunes. Playing copyrighted music in public spaces in Malaysia is illegal, and noncompliance can lead to severe legal consequences.

Therefore, it is crucial for business owners to comprehend the nuances of music licensing in Malaysia and the proper steps to obtain it to ensure they operate within the bounds of the law.

What is Music Licensing?

Music licensing is a legal process that grants businesses the license and the authority to use copyrighted music in a public or commercial setting.

This involves securing permission from copyright owners to use their music in a way that is not covered by the standard purchase of a music track or album, which may include:

  • Songwriters
  • Composers
  • Performers
  • Recording companies

The law governing music licenses in Malaysia is the Copyright Act 1987. The Act ensures that the creators of musical works are fairly compensated for the public performance of their creations. It also serves as a means for creative individuals to gain greater exposure and earn revenues for their music through their art and expertise.

As such, when a business wishes to enhance its atmosphere with music, it must first acquire the proper licenses.

Read More: The Essential Startup Guide to Intellectual Property in Malaysia

Key Steps in Navigating Music Licensing in Malaysia for Business Owners

This licensing process in Malaysia involves several key steps and considerations. A business owner must determine which types of licenses apply to their specific use case. They must also identify which performing rights organisation to approach in order to secure these licenses based on the music usage and its objectives, such as:

  • Public Performers Malaysia (PPM),
  • Recording Performers Malaysia Sdn Bhd (RPM)
  • Music Authors Copyright Protection (MACP)

The appropriate licensing not only ensures legal compliance but also supports the artists and the music industry as a whole. Without these measures in place, businesses may face legal action, leading to fines or other penalties, as utilising unauthorised copyrighted works is an offence under the Act.

They can also suffer a significant negative impact on their reputation and trustworthiness because people will perceive them as lacking integrity in intellectual property rights. Thus, understanding and adhering to music licensing requirements is essential for both the ethical and legal operation of businesses in Malaysia.

Read More: Copyright Law In Malaysia: How To Ensure Exclusive Rights

Types of Music Licencing In Malaysia

Types of Music Licencing In Malaysia

In Malaysia, business owners must be aware of several key types of music licensing to ensure they operate within the legal framework of intellectual property rights.

Additionally, understanding these licenses is crucial to using music legally and ethically in a business setting.

1.      Public Performance License

Businesses must have this license whenever they play or perform music in public. In Malaysia, if you are broadcasting or playing music live in a place that goes beyond a strictly personal, non-commercial atmosphere, you are required to obtain a Public Performance License.

This legal permission allows you to legally play copyrighted music in front of a larger audience, whether customers, clients, or employees, thereby avoiding potential legal issues involving copyright infringement.

2.      Synchronisation License

A Synchronisation License, commonly referred to as a ‘sync’ license, allows the synchronisation of copyrighted music to visual content. The license is crucial to be obtained by businesses that intend to integrate music with visual elements—such as using background music in promotional videos or soundtracks in commercials.

This type of license is crucial for legally synchronising music with visual media. It enables businesses to combine audio and visual elements, enhancing both the brand’s message by making it more engaging and memorable for the consumers through a more immersive experience.

Without securing a sync license, using copyrighted music in visual media could result in significant legal issues, including penalties and damages for copyright infringement.

Read More:Licensing vs Franchising In Malaysia: What’s The Difference?

How To Obtain Music Licenses in Malaysia

Securing the appropriate music licenses in Malaysia is straightforward, but it requires engaging with the official organisations governing music rights. Here’s how businesses can navigate the process:

1.      General Workflow

Businesses should take the following steps to apply for music licenses:

  1. Identify the type of license required based on the business’s specific use of music.
  2. Complete the application process for each relevant organisation. This usually involves providing:
    • Details about the premises
    • The nature of the business
    • The way music will be used
  3. Pay the stipulated fee, which can vary depending on factors such as:
    • The size of the venue
    • The audience capacity
    • The duration of the license
  4. Abide by the terms of the license once granted. This may include restrictions on playable music or requirements for reporting music usage.

2.      Engage with Music Authors’ Copyright Protection (MACP)

The MACP is the key authority when it comes to composers, songwriters, and publishers. They are responsible for issuing licenses that allow for the commercial use of musical compositions and lyrics.

To obtain a license from MACP, business owners need to fill out an application that details the scope of their music use, such as the type of establishment, the size of the audience, and the frequency of music use.

3.      Coordinate with Public Performance Malaysia (PPM)

PPM deals with the public performance rights of sound recordings. These are the rights a business requires when it intends to play recorded music publicly within its establishment.

It grants authorisation to use all sound, music video, and/or karaoke recordings in various formats. Similar to MACP, PPM also requires businesses to submit an application detailing their specific usage of recorded music.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, understanding music licensing is vital for business owners in Malaysia to ensure legal compliance and promote fair compensation for artists.

Hence, by embracing music licensing, business owners can enrich customers’ experiences and contribute to Malaysia’s thriving music industry.

If you have any more concerns regarding the use of music in your business establishment, we at Sabrina Hashim & Co. are trusted intellectual property lawyers and can help you with any further issues related to copyright.