Copyright & IP

Copyright and intellectual property

The Department provides support and advice on intellectual property and copyright for TAFE colleges and registered training organisations that deliver publicly funded training. We also offer workshops and training on how to manage IP issues and risks when using and creating training resources, recommended for lecturers, content writers or anyone dealing with IP.

For information on when the workshops are offered, please subscribe to VETinfoNews. VETinfoNews is a free monthly email newsletter with all the latest news and information for Western Australia's vocational education and training sector. 

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Frequently asked questions

(updated May 2019)

Can I show a commercial DVD in class?

Under section 28 of the Copyright Act 1968, teachers and trainers are allowed to screen a DVD in class for free and without permission from the copyright owner as long as the following criteria are met:

  • the screening is for the purposes of educational instruction;
  • the audience consists only of people who are giving or receiving instruction; and
  • the educational instruction is not for profit.

This provision also applies to virtual and distance education classes. Please note, however, that downloading or making copies of the DVD is not permitted; section 28 allows you only to play or stream the DVD. It is very important that the film or DVD is a legitimate copy and not an infringing copy.

For more information on screening films in or outside the classroom, see Performance and communication of works and audio visual material in TAFE classes at smartcopying.edu.au, for TAFE colleges and schools. Other organisations should read Education: Using AV material at copyright.org.au.

Can I play music or a film for a fundraising activity where a profit is made and people outside the TAFE college are attending?

No. You need to obtain permission from the copyright holder/s, or you could try to obtain a licence from APRA/AMCOS and PPCA for music or from Roadshow for a film. If you have not obtained a licence, you are not allowed to communicate, perform or reproduce music or video without copyright permission.

If you don't succeed in obtaining permission, you could try to find music freely available in the public domain or under a Creative Commons licence; for example, you could visit freesound.org. For more information on where to find CC-licensed music, see Where to find CC licensed music at smartcopy.edu.au.

You can also use ‘CC Search’ to find Creative Commons licensed material: ccsearch.creativecommons.org. Some search engines allow searches for Creative Commons material by adding the words 'creative commons' to the search terms. The licence terms for Creative Commons material vary, so check them carefully before you use the licence. 

Am I infringing copyright if I use 10 per cent of a work to present TAFE course materials?

No. You are not infringing copyright if your use falls under the statutory licence in section 113P text and artistic works licence of Copyright Act 1968 and you work at a WA TAFE, school or organisation that subscribes to the licence. You should ensure that you include clear attributions and notices crediting any third party work used under this licence in course materials. For more information on copying limitations see Education Licence B: Statutory Text and Artistic Licence at smartcopying.edu.au. For information on attributions, see the information sheet Attribution of Text and Artistic Works: TAFE on the Smartcopying website.

Please note that there are some restrictions if you are making the work available on a TAFE college learning management system. Student access to text and images should be password protected, and limited to only those students participating in the course.

I'd like to include some samples of students' work in the resource I'm developing and they've all agreed to it. Do I need to get their permission in writing?

Students generally own the copyright in any original material they create. If you want to use their work, you must obtain their permission in writing. If the student is under the age of 18, their parent/guardian should sign the agreement.

I have been told that I can use the '10 per cent rule' at my TAFE college as long as the content is 'not for profit'. Can you give me an exact definition of 'not for profit'?

You may only charge users to recoup the costs of production for a resource, ie 'cost recovery'. This includes activities directly related to the physical production of the materials (eg the cost of printing and/or shipping) and does not include a profit margin.

However, if you or your training organisation is making a profit or gaining some commercial advantage from a resource containing third-party material, then the  statutory licences and exceptions do not apply and you must request permission to use the third-party content from the copyright owner.

For the 10 per cent rule to apply (under section 113P of the Copyright Act 1968 – the text and artistic works licence), you must be using the content for 'educational instruction' only; for example, for the purpose of teaching, preparing to teach or creating resources for students to study. For more information, see Education Licence B: Statutory Text and Artistic Licence at smartcopying.edu.au.

Will images on classroom posters still need to be attributed if taken from somewhere like Creative Commons? If so, what's the best way to do this without disrupting the aesthetics or content?

Yes, images will still need to be attributed if using Creative Commons material. The attribution can go at the bottom of the poster in small text – as long as it's legible. If more than one image has been used then the attribution may need to be closer to each image or a numbering system inserted, to indicate which image is being attributed.

The Creative Commons information pack on the Smartcopying website  includes information sheets showing you how to attribute Creative Commons images according to the licence type.  Select the PDF How to attribute Creative Commons licensed material.

Can students (as part of a class assignment) copy images to place on posters to be displayed around campus for a fundraiser?

There are special 'fair dealing' provisions in the Copyright Act 1968 that allow students to use a limited amount of copyright material for specific purposes without seeking the permission of the copyright owner. In order to rely on this, your use must be 'fair', consisting of a 'reasonable portion' and be for the purposes of:

  • research or study;
  • criticism or review;
  • parody or satire; or
  • reporting news.

Students should attribute the author of any third-party material they use.

If a student's poster containing third-party content under the fair dealing provision will be viewed by the general public and displayed for commercial purposes, such as a fundraiser, then the fair dealing exception may no longer apply. 

For TAFEs and schools, see Copyright exceptions at smartcopying.edu.au for more information; other organisations, see Fair dealing: What can I use without permission? at copyright.org.au.

I researched a number of different sources before I wrote my own teaching resource. Would this be counted as referencing or copying?

If your resource is written in your own words but based on research you have done using the information and ideas from the works of others, you should include a reference list acknowledging the works/authors you have used. A reference list helps secure the credibility of the author, informs the reader and is also useful for copyright reasons. It is an expectation in most professions and contexts that works used for research will be properly acknowledged.

Remember that themes and ideas are not copyright protected; however, the expression and exact way in which a theme and idea is presented in a work is protected by copyright.

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Copyright and IP information for RTOs and practitioners

The following information sheets have been developed by the Department. They explain in detail key IP and copyright topics as they relate to TAFE colleges and other training providers that subscribe to the statutory education licences. These information sheets were updated in May 2019, to reflect changes in legislation.

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Page last updated June 10, 2019