Copyright in the classroom

August 2015


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Copyright licensing allows schools the freedom to plan media-rich, creative lessons – and stay on the right side of the law.

CopyrightMiss Green records a documentary on TV that will perfectly complement her year 11 geography class’s module on sustainability. She can’t wait for them to watch it, and has planned a whole lesson around the programme. She decides to check if the school has the right copyright licence in place and is dismayed to find it doesn’t. She’s tempted to show the documentary anyway – chances are no one would ever know. But then if she was caught, she, the principal and even the board could be held liable. She’s also eager to do the right thing, especially in front of her students. What’s a teacher to do?!

Fortunately, copyright licensing is easier than ever for schools, thanks to the ongoing partnership between Copyright Licensing New Zealand, OneMusic and Screenrights. For the third year, the organisations are continuing to collaborate to make school licensing even easier, offering a sort of ‘one stop shop’ solution that allows schools to ‘pick and mix’ the licences they require to access the print, music and audio visual content needed for lessons and teaching.

“Obvious decision” for Taupaki

Taupaki School in Henderson, Auckland, is a copyright conscious school. Each year they take up all three copyright licences: a CLNZ licence for print, a OneMusic licence for music and a Screenrights licence for television and radio content.

Principal Stephen Lethbridge says it is an obvious decision for his school.

“We can access far more material – across a broad spectrum of media – and use it knowing we’re doing things legally. The licences give our teachers more freedom to be creative and we can also encourage our students to respect creativity, knowing that we’re doing the same.”

Lethbridge says it is important for students to understand intellectual property issues and to think about their own creative ownership as well.

“We aim to embed intellectual property education into our everyday teaching practice and having the correct licences is an important part of that.”

No restrictions

The main benefit, of course, is that teachers aren’t restricted when it comes to planning creative lessons that involve mixed media elements.

Thanks to the school’s CLNZ print licence, year 7 and 8 teacher JJ Purton Jones can provide copies of a poem in its entirety to students to help them understand types of poems and inspire them to write their own work. Without a licence she would only be able to provide students with copies of up to half of a poem.

Because the school is licensed with Screenrights, she can also save programmes onto her school device to share with her class.

“I also use the TVNZ archives and eTV a lot with my class – often for inspiration at the start of an inquiry topic.”
When the school wants to perform or play music during assemblies their OneMusic licence means they can do this, without the drama of seeking permission.

Straightforward process

Westlake Girls’ High School is another copyright conscious school that has all three licences in place. They receive an invoice each year so the process of renewing the licences is “reasonably straightforward”.

Associate principal Julie Saikkonen says the school displays posters reminding teachers of the guidelines around copyright and says teachers have found these to be helpful in aiding their understanding of their rights and obligations.

Saikkonen admits getting properly licensed does not come cheap.

“It’s expensive but as a school we want to stay within the law and so it’s important to be licensed. Schools have to budget for this cost and is funding adequate? Probably not.”

However, schools’ licensing fees are necessary as licensing helps the owners of creative content earn a living from their work. The income received from licence fees is paid to the owners of the creative works that licensed schools use in their classrooms.

School licensing FAQ

What is copyright?

Copyright relates to a set of laws that grant the creator of published material the right to say how it is used and shared. Generally speaking, copyright law permits users to access content for personal use only. So, if someone wants to share the material, even if it’s for educational purposes, by law, the copyright owner must grant permission first.

What are copyright licensing agencies?

Copyright licensing agencies like Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ) have gained advanced permission from the creators of the published content for their work to be used for educational purposes – far beyond what is normally permitted under the Copyright Act.

Who is liable in the event of a copyright infringement?

Without the right licence, teachers, the principal and the board of trustees can be held liable.

What are the Pick & Mix Licensing Options?

There are three licences to choose from and they cover print, music and audio visual material. While each licence is available individually, the dynamic nature of the lessons being delivered in the modern classroom mean most schools need two, if not all three licences, in order to be compliant.

How are licences costed and renewed?

The licences are renewable annually and are costed based on student numbers.


What licences are available and how much do they cost?

A CLNZ licence enables teachers to:

  • Photocopy and scan:
    • 10 per cent of books
    • 15 pages from short story and poetry books
    • complete journal and newspaper articles
  • Share with students via:
    • printed handouts
    • electronic whiteboard
    • intranet.

Annual fee: $1.60 (plus GST) per primary student; $3.20 (plus GST) per secondary student.

  • A OneMusic licence enables schools to:
    • perform music at assemblies, concerts and social events
    • photocopy sheet music (for print musical works, up to 30 copies for every original owned; for choral works, up to five copies for every original owned)


      make recordings of performances available to students and families
    • create and make digital music files for use in lessons


      stream recorded events from their website.

Annual fee: $1.43 (plus GST) per student.

  • A Screenrights licence enables schools to:
    • record content broadcast on TV or radio
    • keep copies to use as an ongoing resource
    • download AV material legally online, including podcasts and vodcasts
    • access more online resources including eTV and Clickview.

Annual fee: $4.33 per student.
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