Copyright protects the original expression of ideas in a material form – for example, original works of art, scripts, books, reports, information sheets, music, films, broadcasts and computer programs. This includes on-line and digital forms. Copyright protects only the material expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves.

Copyright protection is provided automatically when a work is created – no registration is required. Copyright ownership may be indicated by the presence of a copyright notice – e.g.© Department of Education and Early Childhood Development 2007 – and while this is recommended, it is not essential from a legal standpoint.

Copyright is automatic once a work has been put into a material form, such as the written text of a novel. A work is protected by law in Australia providing that:

  • it is original; and
  • the author is a citizen or resident of Australia, or the work was first published in Australia.

Australian law also protects copyright materials made in most other countries under international arrangements.

DEECD has produced the following advice for schools

Creative Commons is another system which allows content owners to determine who and how people use their content.

The Australian Copyright Council

The Australian Copyright Council is an independent, non-profit organisation who represent the peak bodies for professional artists and content creators working in Australia’s creative industries and Australia’s major copyright collecting societies. They have provided advice and defined copyright infringement.

‘Copyright infringement is the unauthorised exercise of one of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights. Common examples of copyright infringement that could occur in schools are:

  • copying more than the amount of a work permitted to be copied by the education statutory licences, a direct licence or a fair dealing exception;
    “(The Copyright Act allows “fair dealing” with copyright material for certain specified purposes. Unlike US copyright law, Australian law does not have a general “fair use” defence.)
  • downloading and sharing MP3 files of music, videos or games without permission of the copyright owner;
  • putting music on the Internet for download by students or the public;
  • scanning a photograph that has been published and using it without permission or attribution and in the absence of an exception (lack of attribution would be an infringement of the creator’s moral rights);
  • installing more copies of a software program on computers than are allowed for in the relevant licence agreement.’

Copyright for schools

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, The Catholic Education Office and independent schools contribute to more than $114 Million in licencing fees  paid to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) each year.

This enables educational institutions to use some copyright material for educational purposes without permission from the copyright owner.

The main provisions are in Part VB (copying and communicating text, images and notated music) and Part VA (copying and communicating TV and radio programs).


The Official Guide to Copyright Issues for Australian Schools and TAFE – Smartcopying  provides advice to schools on what they are able to do under the Copyright Act and includes the allowances provided under the CAL licencing payment.

All right to copy interactive offers a guide to students and teachers as to what they can and cannot do when it comes to using the work of others.

Information on appropriate use of the different types of media is given in each of the sections.

Global2 and copyright 

Any content used should be referenced and the link presented, even as a hyperlink. Any content that has been copied must have permission from the content owner OR allow permission to copy.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a copyright licencing system which allows content owners to determine who and how people use their content.
Smartcopying provide information around using creative commons

Many people use creative commons to allow others to use their work through attribution, acknowledging them as the source.

Linking to a resource or embedding does not breech copyright. But don’t link to a resource you know is breeching copyright.