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For Teachers: Copyright

Professional learning, documentation, digital learning, iPad information

Copyright Basics

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law which protects the expression of information & ideas in material form. In Australia, materials do not have to be registered for copyright protection, as copyright applies automatically as soon as something is recorded or written down. Copyright in Australia generally lasts for 70 years after the death of the material's creator.

There are special provisions in the Copyright Act which allow educational institutions to use copyright material for educational purposes without requiring permission from the copyright owner.

At Lowther, we pay a licence fee so that teaching staff can copy and communicate text, images and print music without seeking permission from copyright owners. However, this copying or sharing must only be for educational purposes. If it is also for other purposes (e.g. if a copy is provided to the general public), then the licence will not apply.

There are fixed limits which apply to the amounts of copyright materials that can be copied or shared for educational purposes:

  • Literary, dramatic or musical works (e.g. a book, play, musical score, sheet music): You can copy up to 10% of the total number of pages or 1 chapter (whichever is greater)
  • Artistic works (e.g. photographs, diagrams, graphs): If the image comes from a print source (e.g. a textbook), the whole image can be used if it cannot be separately purchased at a ordinary commercial price within a reasonable time. If the image comes from an electronic source (e.g. a website), then the whole image can be used and there is no need to check whether or not is separately available.
  • Periodical publications (e.g. journal or newspaper articles): You may use 1 article from any issue of a periodical publication, or 2 or more articles from the same issue if they are on the same topic.
  • Recorded music: Commercially available CDs, DVDs and tape recordings may be played in class for teaching purposes.

If you wish to use material which exceeds these limits then you will need to seek permission from the copyright owner - however, this can be a lengthy and potentially costly process as you may be asked to pay a license fee.

Using Copyright Material in Exams

Searching for Creative Commons images

Flickr is an excellent source of Creative Commons images, but not all images on Flickr are covered by Creative Commons licenses. By going to the Advanced Search page on Flickr, navigating to the 'Any License' drop-down menu and selecting 'All creative commons', you can then search their image database for copyright-friendly images.


Google Images is another great source of images licensed under Creative Commons. After searching for something in the Google Images search bar, if you click on "Tools" and then the drop-down menu under "Usage Rights" you can then select the type of license that suits your purposes.


Reverse Image Searching in Google

Copyright for Education


The Australian Copyright Council has guidelines to download for such areas as: texts and images; musicals, concerts and plays; and audiovisual items among others.Click on the link or the image above to access them and download. 


Use Creative Commons to adhere to copyright


Know this symbol 

A really good and simple explanation

You must always request permission to share or reuse content that you find on the web, except when it is licensed under Creative Commons. This is because all text, images, videos and music on websites, wikis, blogs and social networking sites are protected by copyright law. This gives creators control over their creative works.

How would you feel if you had written/drawn/photographed something and then someone else took it and claimed it as their own?

Copyright, Creative Commons and Fair Use for Educators

Use Smartcopying

This is an excellent source of information regarding copyright in Australian schools. Click on the image below.

Attributing your materials

All creators of copyright material have the moral right to be acknowledged or attributed as the creator of the work and to not have their work falsely attributed. Whenever you use copyright material, you must include with it a clear attribution. The format in which this attribution may appear can vary depending on the material type and any particular requests from the creator or copyright holder.

All images licensed under Creative Commons need to be attributed, and your citation should include:

  • the title of the work,
  • the name of the creator,
  • a link to the website where the image is hosted, and
  • the type of Creative Commons licence applicable to the work.

If you are using the image in print (or digitally, without hyperlinks), then your attribution should include the text of the URL. If the creator has requested that they be attributed in a particular way you should follow their request. 

Useful Resources