Copyright generally refers to rights in a ‘work’ to reproduce, perform or show the work to the public. Copyright protection is automatic, in that the creator of a work does not need to register it for copyright protection.

A work that is copyright protected may not be reproduced, performed or shown to the public without the authority of the author or producer in most cases.


Copyright protection exists in a variety of works. These are:

  • Artistic works: for example, paintings, cartoons, maps, plans, charts, building and models.
  • Literary works: for example, novels, newspaper articles, journals, poems, song lyrics, instruction manuals, computer software and databases.
  • Musical works: for example, songs, song music, film scores, advertising music.
  • Dramatic works: for example, plays, screenplays and choreography.

Copyright protection also applies to films, television programs, sound recordings (such as records and CDs), broadcasts on radio and television, and typesetting (the layout and look of a publication. These are referred to as ‘other subject matter’ in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

Authors and producers

The owner of the copyright in works will usually be the author (in the case of works) or the producers, for example a record company or broadcaster (in the case of other subject matter). Copyright does not last forever and depending on when a work or subject matter was created or first performed, could last, for example:

  • The lifetime of the author plus 70 years
  • 70 years from the end of the year the subject matter was first published or broadcast.

Once a work or subject matter is out of copyright it can be reproduced, performed or shown to the public freely.

Schools and licences

Catholic Schools New South Wales participates in the negotiation of licences on behalf of Catholic schools in NSW to use copyrighted materials. These licences allow schools to use copyrighted materials for educational purposes within certain limitations.

Statutory Licences

There are two statutory licences: The Statutory Broadcast Licence and the Statutory Text and the Artistic Licence.

The Statutory Broadcast Licence (also known as Education Licence A) allows schools to copy radio and television programs from free to air and pay television broadcasts and communicate those broadcasts.

A copy may be made in any way (for example, DVD, MP4 or other digital format) but may only be communicated:

  • Via a password protected learning management system, shared drive, intranet, or cloud storage accessible by students and staff;
  • Emailing a copy to students and staff; and must only be for education purposes (teaching, library resources, part of a course of study).

The Statutory Text and the Artistic Licence (also known as Education Licence B) allows schools to copy literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, and communicate those works, for educational purposes. The copied works may only be communicated in the same was as Education Licence A.

There are limits to the amount of works that can be copied under Education Licence B. For example, 10% of the pages or one chapter of a book, or 10% of the pages of sheet music. However, the whole of a photographic work can be copied.

Voluntary Licences

There are three main voluntary licences granted by organisations that administer public performance and communication rights on behalf of their members.

The APRA Licence (also known as Education Licence C) allows performance of music at schools or by students or teachers at venues outside the school, such as school concerts, award nights and performances by professional musicians (at schools).

The AMCOS Licence (also known as Education Licence D) allows copying (in hard copy) of whole printed music works, for an educational purpose, and also allows transcription of lyrics or melody lines. There are limits on the number of copies that can be made.

The AMCOS/ARIA/APRA Licence (also known as Education Licence E) allows schools to use recorded music in schools and at school events, as well as recordings of school events involving music. The recordings must be for non-commercial or educational purposes.

This list of licences is not exhaustive and there may be other licences that apply.

To view the current APRA AMCOS License Certificate click here.

Need help?

The information contained on this website is of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. There may be other obligations imposed on schools in relation to a copyright issue that are not mentioned here. If your school needs help with a copyright issue related issue, you can contact the Catholic Schools New South Wales Legal Hotline on 1800 4Catholic Schools New South Wales (1800 427 679).