home ›› information sheets ›› Schools ›› Copyright in the Digital Teaching Environment: A Manual for Schools ›› Films and Videos

Films and Videos


This chapter explains what teachers and students can do with film and video in the classroom.  Essentially, teachers may rely upon the flexible dealing exception under section 200AB of the Copyright Act.  This section should be read with Appendix B which provides further information about section 200AB.

Uploading Copies of Films to Communicate in Class

Communication means making a film available online for student access or viewing such as uploading to an intranet or learning management system. Teachers may upload films online or make a digital copy of a VHS/DVD to upload onto a DTE under section 200AB of the Copyright Act, provided the film can only be viewed by teachers who are directly giving, and students who are directly receiving the instruction for which the copy has been made (i.e. the film is accessible to students in one course as opposed to the students enrolled in the entire institute).

For more information about the flexible dealing exception under section 200AB, see Appendix B

The original must be a lawful copy

It’s important that the original film from which the copy was made was a legitimate, lawful copy.  Avoid copying films off peer-to-peer websites, as these films are more likely to be pirated copies. It is best to use films purchased by the institute/staff or a genuine, non-pirated copy given to the institute/staff.

Terms of Use

The Copyright Act permits copies to be made under s 200AB when you can meet the above requirements, but a lot of commercially purchased content will have terms of use that limit use to ‘personal, non-commercial’ uses.  This may not allow copying by teachers and schools for ‘educational purposes’. 

This is a grey area, but the NCU believes that it is unlikely the terms of use would override section 200AB, and as such, there is a low risk of breaching the conditions of use. Contact the NCU for further advice.


Using YouTube

You may be able to stream YouTube videos to a class under section 28 of the Copyright Act.  This streaming may be directly from the YouTube website, or through a link to a YouTube video embedded on another website.  Section 28 allows teachers and students to play YouTube videos in class where it is in the course of education and not for profit; and the people in the audience or class are giving or receiving instruction, or are directly connected with the place where instruction is given.

For more information about section 28, see the Smartcopying website at: https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/schools/performance-and-communication-of-works-and-audio-visual-material-in-class---what-am-i-allowed-to-do-

Risk Management Tips when Using YouTube

  • Don't use content that is likely to be an infringing copy;
  • Only use YouTube videos for the purpose of teaching. There should be no commercial benefit.
  • Only use what you need;
  • Check that you can't purchase or readily license the content that you need from another source; and
  • Don't expose the content to further copying or communication, such as giving students access to an electronic file that they could copy.

Can I embed a YouTube video on another website then stream it to my class?

Generally you may embed a link to a YouTube video on another website.  In some cases this will not be possible as the uploader of the YouTube video will have disabled this functionality.  In this case, you should not pursue embedding the link.   The YouTube website provides information on how to embed links to YouTube videos.

Can I download YouTube videos and use them as part of my teaching practice?

Downloading a YouTube video involves making a copy of it.  The Flexible Dealing exception in section 200AB of the Copyright Act may permit a copy to be made, however the terms of use on the YouTube website state that the videos are not to be downloaded (i.e. copied). It is unclear whether the YouTube terms of use would prevent a school from relying on s 200AB. There is a small risk that a school might be said to be in breach of contract if it copies videos from YouTube.  However, NCU thinks that the better position is that the school would not infringe copyright if s 200AB as set out in the Copyright Act applies.

Relying on s 200AB

For the Flexible Dealing exception in s200AB to apply:

  1. No other statutory exception must apply. Most content on YouTube has not previously been broadcast. However, if you are copying material from a Free to Air broadcaster’s YouTube channel (eg ABC, SBS) that was previously broadcast eg a news story shown on the nightly news this will be covered Statutory Broadcast Licence.
  2. The YouTube video must not be a copy of content that is likely to be infringing. Content is unlikely to be infringing if it is on a YouTube Partner Channel – YouTube has many content partners that provide videos, including National Geographic, BBC Worldwide and Showtime
  3. You must be using the video for a specific educational purpose ie you cannot make copies just in case you may need it in the future.
  4. Your use must not be for commercial advantage or profit.
  5. Your use must not conflict with the normal exploitation of the video eg if the material can be purchased in the required format it must be.
  6. Your use must not unreasonably prejudice the copyright owner eg you must not use more than required,you must not allow further copies to be made, access should be limited to only the students who require the content and it should be removed when it is no longer required.

It is good practice to mark copies made under the Flexible Dealing Exception with words similar to:

                 "Copied under section 200AB of the Copyright Act 1968"

For further information, see information sheet Flexible Dealing’: https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/schools/flexible-dealing


We recommend that you contact the NCU or your local copyright manager for further advice.

Can I download YouTube videos of Australian free-to-air broadcaster's television programmes (e.g. ABC and other Australian channels)?

Yes, copying material from a free-to-air broadcaster’s YouTube channel (eg ABC, SBS) that was previously broadcast eg a news story shown on TV on the nightly news will be covered by the Statutory Broadcast Licence. For more information, see the Smartcopying website at: https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/copyright-guidelines/education-licences-(statutory-and-voluntary-licences)/education-licence-a-statutory-broadcast-licence . NCU recommends that where possible it is best practice to provide links to videos on YouTube and to contact the NCU if you require further information.

Can I format shift a film?

Some limited format shifting is permitted under the flexible dealing exception in section 200AB.  A school is allowed to format shift copyright material (e.g. a video to DVD or music tape to CD).   For more information, see the Smartcopying website at: https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/schools/format-shifting.  See also Appendix B for the requirements of section 200AB.

Smartcopying Tips for Films and Video

Don’t forget to see Chapter 1 for good Smartcopying tips for film and video content, including information about what students can do with copyright material.  You may also wish to see how to find Creative Commons licensed video at: training.instructure.com/courses/1276118/pages/how-to-find-a-cc-licensed-video