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The current statutory copyright licence schemes and the fair dealing exceptions in the Copyright Act are expensive, restrictive and complicated.  When teachers download, save, print or email webpages from the Internet, those activities incur fees.  The education sector in Australia pays more than $700 million purchasing educational content each year. Often, that content cannot be modified, shared or remixed by teachers and students, except in very limited circumstances.  This is not sustainable financially or pedagogically. 

Openly licensed content, and strategies that avoid unnecessary copying – Smartcopying – is the answer!

This chapter has been deliberately placed first in this manual because the content and principles it refers to represent best practice in the management of copyright fees in the education sector.  It discusses Creative Commons licensed material, which is generally free of copyright licensing fees.  It also introduces the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER), which are educational or learning resources that are openly licensed, generally under the Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution ShareAlike licences. Finally, it provides information about strategies to avoid unnecessary copying, and the advantages of using your own material, thereby also avoiding additional statutory copyright licence fees.

OER provides the following benefits:

  • Safer: You are generally free to reuse, remix, redistribute and adapt education resources without running the risk of breaching the complex copyright exceptions and copyright licence rules.
  • Internet compatible: You don’t have to worry about the extent of your permission to copy, distribute, adapt and remix content across different networks and media as it is made clear.
  • Enabling: Content that is free to access is not necessarily free to reuse, remix or adapt. There are many online sources of information which can be freely accessed but often the right to adapt or remix is reserved by the copyright owner.
  • Accessible: It is easy to access openly licensed materials with over a billion CC-licensed works on the Internet, and many searchable online databases of CC-licensed work are available.
  • Collaborative: It encourages collaboration between educators and creates communities based on sharing of education resources which can increase the quality of materials and the development of ideas.
  • Cheaper: It helps to save money on the national copyright fees and budgets and administrative costs of seeking permission, and allows education resources to be shared freely online with very low transaction costs.
  • Equitable: It offers equal access to knowledge for everyone and allows for education resources to be adapted for minorities and those with disabilities.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a suite of free, publicly available licences that enable authors, musicians and other creators to grant rights to the public to use their work without payment. TAFEs can use Creative Commons licensed music, film clips and photographs in their projects and teaching resources free of charge.

All Creative Commons licences allow the material to be used for educational purposes.  The National Copyright Unit (NCU) encourages teachers to use Creative Commons licensed content, and Open Education Resources (OER) wherever possible.   The table below provides a summary of the different Creative Commons licences, and what is, and is not, permitted under each licence. 

Licence Type

Licence Conditions


Freely use, copy, adapt and distribute to anyone provided the copyright owner is attributed.

Attribution No Derivatives

Freely use, copy and distribute to anyone but only in original form.

The copyright owner must be attributed.

Attribution Share Alike

Freely use, copy, adapt and distribute provided the new work is licensed under the same terms as the original work.

The copyright owner must be attributed.

Attribution Non-commercial

Freely use, copy, adapt and distribute for non-commercial purposes.

The copyright owner must be attributed.

Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives

Freely use, copy and distribute to anyone but only in original form for non-commercial purposes.

The copyright owner must be attributed.

Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike

Freely use, copy, adapt and distribute for non-commercial purposes provided the new work is licensed under the same terms as the original work.

The copyright owner must be attributed.

For further information, including a detailed guide on how to find and attribute Creative Commons material, see the Smartcopying website at: www.smartcopying.edu.au/open-education/creative-commons/creative-commons-information-pack-for-teachers-and-students



YouTube has established a special interface for Creative Commons licensed video content.  You can search for Creative Commons licensed video, and you can also download it or edit it in the YouTube video manager.  These latter features are not available in YouTube for videos uploaded under the standard YouTube licence.  For more information about finding Creative Commons content on Youtube, see the Smartcopying website at:  http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/open-education/creative-commons/creative-commons-information-pack-for-teachers-and-students/how-to-find-creative-commons-material-using-youtube and http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/open-education/creative-commons/downloading-creative-commons-licensed-youtube-videos-guide.


Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning resources that are freely available for everyone to use, whether you are a teacher, student or self-learner. Learning and teaching content which is made available under licences which permit their free access, use, adaptation and sharing by others are transformed into OER.   OER resources are licenced under Creative Commons (CC) licences, in particular the CC-BY (Attribution) and CC-BY-SA (Share Alike) licences.

OER are not restricted to one format and can include hard copy and digital text, audio, video, images, interactive multimedia and combinations of these. OER can cover all levels of a learning plan from a single learning object to an entire course. They include worksheets, curriculum materials, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, class activities, pedagogical materials, games and many more resources from around the world.

OER’s fundamental values ensure they are free for anyone to use and can be freely distributed, adapted, translated, remixed and improved.

This means that users are free to:

  • Retain: Users have the right to make, archive, and keep copies of the content;
  • Reuse:Content can be reused in its unaltered form;
  • Revise: Content can be adapted, adjusted, modified or altered;
  • Remix: The original or revised content can be combined with other content to create something new; and
  • Redistribute: Copies of the content can be shared with others in its original, revised or remixed form.

For more information on OER and Creative Commons please see the following links:

Attributing Creative Commons Material

A requirement of all Creative Commons licences is attribution.  Creative Commons material should be attributed with details of the copyright owner and author (if different to the copyright owner), the name of the work, where the material was copied from and when it was copied.  Some Creative Commons material may also require further information to be included.  For example, when using Creative Commons material, that users should include a link to the Creative Commons licence.


Peter Alexander, ‘Sounion Temple’, www.flickr.com/photos/40681760@N07/3961143351/, 5 August 2009.  Licensed under the Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution licence: www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

Other Alternatives to Copying

The statutory licences may seem convenient, but their rules are complicated and they are expensive.  Teachers can use alternatives to copying to help ensure that copyright costs in TAFE remain manageable. 


We recommend that teachers provide students with access to third-party text and artistic works by a link to the content, where practical, rather than by uploading a copy to a DTE.

Linking is not a copyright activity under the Copyright Act. This is because you are not actually ‘copying’ any material, rather, you are providing a path to its location.  So, providing links to material on external websites is a great way of managing copyright.

Generally, it’s not necessary to seek the permission from a website owner when creating a link to their website.  However, it is important to acknowledge the website.  The appropriate form of acknowledgement will depend on the circumstances.  For example, if you are linking to a useful resource and you know the author of that resource, you may wish to include an acknowledgement such as "Mary Smith from X Institute has provided a useful summary on Y's webpage".


Embedding a link allows the user to view and access content in its original location without having to leave their website (e.g. blog or wiki) or intranet.  It is commonly used for displaying online films, e.g. YouTube films on websites.

Embedding involves copying a portion of HTML code, which is often displayed with the content, and pasting it onto your website.  Rather than linking to the content, it will display the content on your website.

The primary advantage of embedding is that you don’t need to copy the material to make it available on your website.  Further, embedding is a good way to ensure that students only access the specific material you want them to see, rather than an entire webpage, which may contain other material not appropriate or relevant to a class exercise.  It also means that the students don’t leave the TAFE DTE (e.g. class wiki or blog) to see that material.

Material Created By You, Your Institute or Your Department / Administering Body

If you create teaching resources in the course of your employment, and they only contain your own material or material of other employees of your institute or department / administering body, you don’t need to rely on the statutory licences to use this material.  This is because the institute or department / administering body owns the copyright.

However, you must always attribute the material properly.  You must attribute it by including the name of your institute or department / administering body and the year of publication on each page.


© Batchelor Institute 2016


© NSW Technical and Further Education Commission (TAFE NSW – Western Sydney Institute) 2010


For more information about attribution of text and artistic works in TAFE, see the Smartcopying website at: www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/attribution-of-text-and-artistic-works-tafe.

When You Have Permission from the Copyright Owner

If you have permission (e.g. a licence) from the copyright owner to use their material in your resource, you can use it within the scope of that permission.  You should check that the permission allows you to upload the material to your DTE, and make it available to students. Note how the copyright owner wants to be attributed, and make sure you attribute the material clearly on each page.  If you don’t have permission to use the material, and you want to use more than 10% of the work, you may wish to contact the copyright owner to try to obtain permission to do so.  

Labelling Third Party Content in Creative Commons Licensed Material 

Whether the third-party material that you use is licensed under Creative Commons, or not, it is important to properly label all print course material published by and for TAFEs. The purpose of labelling is to assist with the distribution of copyright royalties under the statutory licence scheme, and to ensure that TAFEs don’t pay to copy material that they own or have permission to use.

For more information on when and how to label content, see the Smartcopying website at: http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/labelling-tafe-material

Directing students to relevant content

In addition to embedding and linking, educators can inform their students where to find materials, and they can locate and deal with the material themselves.  This does not attract a copyright fee because students may make limited copies for themselves under the fair dealing rules.  For more information about what students can do with copyright material, see the Smartcopying website at: http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/schools/students-and-copyright