What are my copyright obligations during COVID-19 restrictions?

In the vast majority of cases, schools can use digital technologies to provide remote teaching and learning support to Australian students.  If you were planning on using copyright material in a lesson for students, you can still use it to deliver that lesson to students remotely via the internet. However, care needs to be taken in the way content is provided to students remotely to ensure that these unprecedented circumstances do not lead to wider uses of content by students that may cause harm to copyright owners.

The education statutory licence allows education institutions to prepare and deliver materials to students for online learning.

For materials containing text and images, there are four (4) main requirements. Provided these requirements are met, an institution can copy and share any material containing text and images that is available to it, including digital and print material. It can digitise (scan), duplicate digital copies, and upload to a server. It can share material on a server to students, and email to students, provided the material is only available to the relevant students, and for the necessary time.



What this means

1. The institution is covered by payment arrangements with Copyright Agency

There are payment arrangements in place for:

  • nearly all Australian schools
  • TAFEs
  • members of Universities Australia
  • other education institutions, such as registered training organisations
  • members of Early Childhood Australia

2. The material is copied and/or shared for educational purposes

Education purposes includes:

  • made or retained for use, or is used, in connection with a particular course of instruction provided by the institution
  • made or retained for inclusion, or is included, in the collection of a library of the institution

3. The material is not used for any other purpose

Institutions need to take steps to make sure that materials are not used for any other purposes, for example by:

  • using secure servers to ensure that materials are only available to the relevant students and parents assisting them
  • telling students and parents how they can and can’t use the materials (e.g. no sharing with others)
  • not retaining material any longer than needed for educational purposes

4. The institution does not copy or share more than a Reasonable portion of a publication that is available for purchase

  • An institution copying from a publication that is available for purchase can copy and share 10% of the pages, or a chapter, per student per course.
  • An institution may be allowed to copy and/or share more if that is reasonable, and not detrimental to the content creators if done at scale. For example, if lots of people copy 80% of a book available for sale, instead of buying it, then that is likely to be detrimental to the content creators.


For more information, please visit Copyright Agency: https://www.copyright.com.au/licences-permission/educational-licences/online-teaching/. The official schools copyright website Smartcopying has also published specific advice for teachers during COVID-19.  If schools have any copyright questions, your state and sector copyright contacts are here.