Policy last updated
19 March 2021
- This policy sets out the seven foundational principles that guide schools’ management of intellectual property in line with the Department’s and the State’s overarching .
- Schools should refer to the Guidance and Resources tabs on this topic for links to more detailed information on copyright matters.
Schools typically create and use intellectual property, including copyright, on a daily basis.
Intellectual property (IP) is a term used to encompass a range of legal rights that protect the creations of the mind and creative effort. Patents, trademarks and registered designs are examples of IP, as is copyright.
Copyright refers to the rights granted to the creators or copyright holders of original works. Copyright protects owners’ rights to control how their works are used. Generally, permission must be obtained before using work protected by copyright. Copyright protection lasts for a specific period of time. Once that period has ended (usually 70 years after the death of the creator), the work can be used without the need for permission or payment.
Copyright is the form of IP most commonly created and/or used in the Department and schools. Examples of material protected by IP or copyright that school staff might encounter include:
- curriculum material
- text books and other teaching resources
- software and apps
- films, videos and podcasts
Everyday uses that schools make of material protected by copyright include photocopying, scanning, downloading, screen captures, performances and screenings.
Schools must manage and use IP, including copyright, in line with the following principles.
1. The Department makes its IP available with the fewest possible restrictions
The Department and schools create IP that can benefit others when shared. The recommended way to share original copyright material with the broader school community and the public is to use a Creative Commons licence. Creative Commons copyright licences allow everyone to freely re-use and share copyright material as long as the owner is credited as the copyright holder. For example, on its website and in its publications, the Department makes the content it has created available under a Creative Commons licence. Schools can similarly licence content on their websites and the original teaching materials they create.
2. The Department owns the IP created by its employees in the course of their work
School staff create copyright material in the course of their work. Copyright material created by school staff is owned by the Department (on behalf of the State). This reflects the usual legal position; employers own IP in materials created by employees in the course of their work.
3. The Department appropriately manages IP belonging to others
Schools must treat IP belonging to others (third party IP) in compliance with the law. It is also important to acknowledge the moral rights of creators by crediting their works.
Students hold rights as creators of their own work. Permission must be obtained before using student IP outside of ordinary internal educational purposes, for example, when uploading student artwork to a school website.
The Department holds licences that allow schools to use a third party’s copyright material in specific ways. It is the responsibility of everybody to use material within licence terms and in compliance with the law. Information on the licences held by the Department is available on the Guidance tab. Further, more detailed information on the licences for educational uses of copyright material can be found on the Australian schools’ .
4. IP is managed in Departmental procurement, contracts, and shared funding agreements
Procurement for goods or services often results in IP being generated. The contract templates for school procurement include IP clauses, but it is important to think through the full range of IP requirements of each project that the contract will need to cover. A school may engage external parties in a variety of projects that include IP, for example, engaging a company to develop a school website, or procuring photographic services for school photos.
5. The Department does not ordinarily commercialise its IP
Schools are not in the business of selling IP. Original copyright material created by school staff should, in most circumstances, be released for free (for example, under a Creative Commons licence) for the benefit of the whole community.
Help is available for schools wishing to release and share school-created materials. See the Guidance tab for information or contact the Department’s Copyright Team for advice.
6. Departmental employees must not commercialise Departmental IP for their own purposes
Staff must not commercialise IP created in schools for personal or private gain, including selling teaching resources on social media or using Departmental IP to develop apps.
7. IP should be identified and recorded appropriately
Records must be kept for arrangements that include IP, such as subscriptions, apps and software agreements, licenced teaching resources, permissions to use copyright material granted by third-parties and consents to use students’ IP.
It is recommended that schools keep a central record of these licences and permissions. This will help schools to effectively manage IP and copyright, including being able to easily identify materials that should be excluded from payment in copyright surveys so the Department is not charged twice for their use.
Guidance on applying the Intellectual Property and Copyright Policy
This guidance supports schools to apply the Intellectual Property and Copyright Policy.
To further promote awareness of the policy and its application in schools, a conversation card activity has also been developed. The cards are designed to prompt discussion about what is good practice when using intellectual property (IP) in educational scenarios. The cards can be used in a workshop format or during staff meetings. The Intellectual Property and Copyright Conversation Cards can be found on the .
This guidance contains the following chapters:
- Using copyright material
- Sharing copyright material
The kind of intellectual property most often produced and used by school staff is copyright. Copyright refers to the rights granted to the creators or copyright holders of original works and governs how these works may be copied, adapted and shared.
Copyright protects the material expression of an idea, but not the idea itself. Copyright material is described as 'works' and 'other subject matter' and includes:
- art (including photos, illustrations, graphs, charts)
- literature (including all text-based works, hardcopy or digital)
- music and sound recordings
- television and radio broadcasts
Using copyright material
Using copyright material
Many everyday school activities involve using copyright material. Web pages, audio books, stock images and teaching resources are all examples of material that may be protected by copyright. Teachers and other school staff use copyright material when downloading, scanning, photocopying, saving to drive or learning management system (LMS), taking screen captures, performing material and screening films.
All of these uses involve copyright. In general, copyright materials can only be used in the ways that the owner specifies.
Teachers’ use of copyright material
Teachers may copy material if:
- it is owned by the Department or another Victorian government department
- it is covered under a Creative Commons licence
- a statutory exception applies, such as fair dealing
- copyright has expired (generally 70 years after the death of the author)
- permission has been obtained from the copyright owner — refer to the Resources tab for a (login required)
- one of the education licences held by the Department permits the intended use.
The following information is an introduction to topics covered in detail on the schools’ Smartcopying website, which is the official and primary source of guidance about educational uses of copyright material in Australian schools.
The education licences
Many everyday uses of copyright material in schools are covered under a collection of five licences, referred to as the education licences. Generally, these licences apply only to schools' internal uses of copyright material. The education licences make it easy for schools to use copyright material without having to obtain the copyright owner’s direct permission.
The following table sets out the 5 education licences held by the Department in relation to copyright material.
The Department pays an annual fee for each of the copyright licences. The fees go to the copyright collecting societies who then distribute the fees as royalty payments to their members, the copyright holders.
Occasionally, but no more than once every eight years, a school may be required to participate in a copyright survey. Participation is an obligation under the education licences. The purpose of the surveys is to collect a sample of works that are copied for educational purposes. The sample data is used to identify copyright owners so they can be paid for the use of their work.
When using copyright material under the terms of the copyright licences, the creator and source should be attributed whenever it is reasonable to do so. This helps identify works copied during the copyright surveys.
Teachers may also rely on copyright exceptions to use material without permission, for example, when copying for exams, writing material on a whiteboard, performing or communicating material in a classroom, or in some circumstances where none of the education licences apply. Visit for more details.
Licences for schools' non-educational uses of copyright material
Fundraising activities that rely on the use of copyright works are outside the scope of the education licences. A direct ‘one-off’ licence may be available through the copyright owner’s collecting society. (See table above)
Attributing copyright material belonging to others
Material not created by school staff or the Department is referred to as third party material. Schools are advised to attribute third party material whenever reasonable to do so. This is always best practice and in some cases required by licence terms and other rights.
- is the acknowledgment, or crediting, of the original creator of a work
- is usually displayed close to the work, for example, in the caption to a photograph
- includes the work's title, the name of the creator/owner, the source, and notes the terms under which it was copied (for example 'used with permission' or 'licensed under CC BY').
Creators often specify how to attribute their work and these instructions should be followed.
Scenario — using a photo in a classroom activity sheet
A teacher creates a classroom activity sheet for his students which includes a third party image. Permission for this internal educational use is covered under the Text and Artistic Licence. The teacher should attribute the photographer, for example, BarbDwire66, Alpha Stock Images, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Students and copyright
Library warning notice
Schools must display copyright warning notices near photocopiers, printers, scanners and devices that are used by students to copy content. These notices protect schools from liability for copyright infringements when students use these machines.
Copyright in material created by students
Students hold copyright as creators of their own work. Permission must be obtained before using student intellectual property outside of ordinary internal educational purposes, for example, when uploading student artwork to a school website. To seek permission, use the (login required).
Sharing copyright material
Sharing copyright material
In most circumstances, schools are required to share the original copyright materials they create with other schools and the broader public.
Schools may wish to share original material that they have created on a school website or directly with other schools or organisations. This is done by applying a licence to the material that indicates what others can and can’t do with it.
The recommended licence to apply to original copyright material is the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY). This licence:
- is suitable for most original material school staff create and wish to share or release to the public
- allows users to copy, share and edit the copyright material in any medium or format without seeking permission, provided that attribution is made to the school and the Department
- does not allow re-use of logos, trademarks and branding, or material created by third parties
CC BY is the default licence for the Department and schools’ publications and websites. Only in limited circumstances should another licence be applied. The schools’ version of this licence is shown in Figure 1 and is available for school use at . To view the licence used for corporate material, refer to:
Things to consider before releasing material to the public
Before releasing any material, schools need to consider:
- Does it include third party material? If so, can the third party material be released under the Department’s (available on the Resources tab)? Has the third party material been correctly attributed?
- Does it include student work? If so, permission to release the material under the Creative Commons licence needs to be obtained from the student or parent/carer. Student work should be appropriately attributed, noting that for privacy and safety reasons, students must be attributed by first name only or by a pseudonym if this is requested by the student or parent/carer.
- Is there any reason the material may not be suitable for public release, for example does it contain personal information or photographs of students or others?
For help deciding whether material can be released to the public, contact the Copyright Team.
Scenario — sharing resources
A teacher has been asked to upload material they have presented at a conference onto a public website. To do so the teacher must check the following:
- Does any of the material belong to third parties? If so, can that material be released under the Department’s recommended Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence? Is the third party material attributed?
- Does any of the material belong to students? Have permissions been obtained from students/parents or carers? Is the material appropriately attributed?
If all of the above has been checked then the teacher can release the material under the recommended Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY).
Attribution is the acknowledgment of the creator of a work when it is copied. Attribution is usually displayed close to the work, for example, in the caption to a photograph. Attribution should include the work’s title, the name of its creator, and the source, as well as the terms under which it was copied, for example 'used with permission' or 'licensed under CC BY'. Creators often specify how to attribute their work and these instructions should be followed.
To communicate copyright material means making it available online or electronically transmitting it (for example, saving to a learning management system or sending copied material in an email).
A copy is a reproduction of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. Copies can be made by printing, photocopying, scanning, downloading or saving.
Copyright is the legal term used to describe rights that creators or copyright holders have in their work. Copyright protects owner’s rights to control how their works are used. Generally, permission must be obtained before using work protected by copyright. Copyright protection lasts for a specific period of time. Once that period has ended (usually 70 years after the death of the creator), the work can be used without the need for permission or payment.
Creative Commons licences
Organisations and creators can apply a Creative Commons licence to their work so that others know how they can use the work without having to seek permission or make a payment. A condition of all Creative Commons licences is that the copyright holder must be attributed. The six licences vary in the additional permissions they grant, such as changing the work and commercial uses.
Exceptions to copyright
A copyright exception is a legal provision that allows use of copyright works without permission or payment.
Fair dealing exceptions
The fair dealing exceptions are the main exceptions to copyright in Australia. In specific circumstances copying a portion of a work for the purposes of research or study, criticism or review, news reporting or parody and satire will be a fair dealing exception. When students copy portions of a book for a school assignment they are relying on fair dealing for the purpose of research and study. The library warning notice is a reminder that ten percent or one chapter is the copying limit under this exception. Enabling a person with a disability to access copyright material, is a copyright exception.
Intellectual property (IP)
Intellectual property (IP) is the term used to encompass a range of legal rights that protect the creations of the mind and creative effort. Patents, trademarks and registered designs are examples of IP, as is copyright.
A licence is when a copyright holder gives authorisation or permission for another to use their copyright works.
Moral rights are separate from the economic rights protected by copyright. Moral rights require that credit (attribution) is given to individual creators and that their work is treated with respect. Moral rights only applies to the creators of works and cannot be sold on or licenced to another.
Open Educational Resources
Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely accessible materials for teaching, learning, assessment and research. OER are often licensed under Creative Commons.
Permission, release or clearance requests are requests to use material in ways reserved for the copyright holder.
Third party material
In this guidance, third party material, content, or works, refers to copyright material not owned by the Department.
Intellectual Property and Copyright Policy
To support principals in introducing the policy to their staff, conversation cards have been developed to promote behaviour consistent with the policy. These cards can be used in a workshop format or during team meetings to prompt discussion about what a good practice response to various scenarios might look like.
The conversation cards include a general facilitator guide. Below is an example of one way the cards could be used to run a 30-minute activity.
- — practical copyright examples for schools covering a wide range of topics such as, copying for exams, YouTube, using images from the internet and copying sheet music.
- — quick answers to common copyright questions asked by school and technical and further education (TAFE) teachers.
- — information for teachers who create or compile resources for students, including how to attribute other creators
- — warning notices schools must display near photocopiers, printers, scanners and devices used by students to copy content.
Creative Commons licences
The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0) is the default licence for the Department and schools’ publications and websites.
Reviewed 13 March 2020