Copyright and the Curriculum

Copyright should not become an empire of its own – it will quite naturally arise as an integral part of many school and out-of-school activities.

'Copyright' is and should be part of other processes such as digital literacy, e-safeguarding, plagiarism awareness, citizenship and managing your own learning. As well as good use of the main Licences from CLA (photocopying and scanning) and ERA (recording broadcasts) there is well-developed practice in UK schools in areas such as staging musicals or  knowledge of patents which is a well-established part of the UK’s Technology curriculums.

The curriculum, within it’s diversity of experience and range of contexts should promote:

Verifying sources is not specifically a copyright issue but as a procedure developes the general sense of considering where materials have come which is necessary to try and work out if they are copyrighted or if permissions for use have been given.

Acknowledgements: it is good practice to acknowledge the source and authorship of other people’s work that you refer to or use and UK ‘fair use’ requires it. Most Creative Commons licences require it.  Using third party resources often requires it, including resources from some subscription services.

Acknowledgements may reference information such as the title of the work; the name of the creator or author; the date of the work or publication; for some items a or Map or GIS reference; the distributor or publisher; the source; a weblink (but perhaps not a search string link). Different media and different uses will dictate which information is appropriate. Copyright acknowledgement requires the name of the copyright owner, who may be or not be the creator or author. For instance in newspapers you often see beside photographs the photographers name (the creator) and the name of the press agency (the owners) they work for. Acknowledgements given for education or academic use and for copyright reasons are related activities and young children can develop their understanding of both by providing selected information most relevant to the main focus of their learning activity at the time.

Recognition of the value of the student’s own work as an individual and as part of a group. Do they know they have copyright on their original work? Do they know how this works in a group situation or if they are working for an organisation? Do they know how the ‘permissions culture’ of UK copyright operates? Do they know how this fits with the world of work and the professional ‘exploitation’ of created works. Do they know the options for sharing work as a creator, re-user and user?.

Progression.Copyright and the good practice that copes with it isn’t something that can be covered in one or two projects or at a particular point in a child’s education;  they are pervasive and need to be dealt with as they occur with some sense of progression being built in. Pupils in Primary school can readily begin the process of acknowledging other’s work while students studying Media Studies in secondary school might be expected to have an understanding of the issues of copyright and industrial practice in say film-making and also of the conflicts that arise as new forms of communication and creation are introduced.

Copyright and Film


An individual who makes a film – whether a professional with all the gear or a child with their first camera – owns the copyright to their film.

Most professional films are made by groups of people and there are often a number of copyright owners – scriptwriters, director, music – as well as performance rights for actors and musicians.

Copyright in film lasts for 70 years after the death of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, and the composer of any music specially created for the film. There may also be third party rights for music, film clips, archive material, etc. and there could also be rights attached to the use of trade mark products.

Insert Archive filmis generally owned by archives - and there's public and commercial archives - though, in some cases, it is in the public domain. Some archive film, like the British Pathé newsreel archive, is available to the public to view without charge and available to education to download, re-use and edit as a subscription service.  The Education Licence provides permissions to edit and work with the film, provided it stays within the school – including VLE – but it is not permitted to show or distribute the film in public by a screening or through a website.

The problems of making film with copyright restrictions to its use or where the film has a high commercial value is sometime overcome by keeping the resources within an authenticated access only website with on-line editing tools and space to publish results. Unlocking Archives includes this on-line method of working. It is also a great example of several copyright holders – BFI,The National Archives and English Heritage - working together with the schools sector, SEGfL, to enable learners to compare, mix and work with resources from different sources unimpeded by multiple websites and differences in the terms of education use. The BFI’s, Screenonline education service has launched an online film-making experience called The Cutting Room which enables archive film to be edited together with contemporary production music – from Audio Network - in an online editing suite. Because of the restrictions of copyright and commerce these activities would be possible without the use of digital technologies online.

Pirating has been a major issue for the film industry – first with pirating cheap video and DVD copies and more recently with internet sharing, including sharing beyond the major global distribution areas.

Copyright your own films with a school name or creator's name and date; acknowledge the efforts of others and any permissions given for shooting, recording or use of third party materials;

Music for films you make needs to be from a source that has granted you permsission, with an open licence such as Creative Commons or from an education service – or of course make your own or chat up a local band or someone on who is publishing their music over the web. Audio Network provides professional music for digital production through the NEN with a flexible licence for school and examination use and with all the associated rights (composer, musicians, recording and distributor) in place to allow public performance by a one-step process.

Working within the CPD Act the following is permitted use of copyright film in UK schools:

·       Legitimately purchased Videos  and DVD can be shown in schools for curriculum use to audiences of children and teachers.  See Chapter III sections 32-36A of the of the CDP Act

·       With an ERA licence, or through the CPD Act for satellite broadcasts, films that have been broadcast can be recorded and shown. See Section 2: 'Collecting Societies'

·       If you are teaching pupils to make filmsCopyright in a sound recording, film or broadcast is not infringed by its being copied by making a film or film sound-track in the course of instruction, or of preparation for instruction, in the making of films or film sound-tracks, provided the copying - is done by a person giving or receiving instruction, and is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, and provided that the instruction is for a non-commercial purpose.” This is permitted within the context of education ‘exceptions’ – it is a limited permission and does not permit the screening to a ‘public audience’ (and that means not to parents and not beyond the school), distribution by DVD or publishing through a website. See  Chapter III sections 32. 2 of the CDP Act


PVS Licence (= a public screening licence) is required to show films at a school event to a public audience (public means an audience including parents and carers as well as 'anyone' from the community), fundraisers or showing films for an after-school club.

 For more about PVS Licences see Section 2 Licensing: Collecting Societies 

Film Education has worked extensively with the motion picture industry to develop curriculum resources about copyright and film:



An individual who composes a piece of music  – whether a professional with all the gear or a child with their first instrument – owns the copyright to their compositon.


Most recorded music we hear is the product of a group of people – composer, lyricist, performers, recording technicians, recording company, distributor. Digital technologies have enabled more people to produce quality recording without the involvement of major companies and created a new entity of the individual ‘bedroom’ multi-creator who can be writer, performer, producer and distributor. For music created by two people or a group the copyright is shared. There is often a different copyright for the music and the lyrics.

Copyright in music in the UK lasts for 70 years after the death of the composer.  Copyright in lyrics is the same - 70 years.

To have copyright you have to have created an original piece of music and ‘fixed’ it in some way – as an audio recording, a video or podcast of a performance or music notation. It is not enough to hum song inside your head or strum it in the bedroom – it has to be ‘fixed’.  The UK IP Office suggests the process of posting yourself a copy of the work (CD, memory stick, music) dated and signed across the seal of the envelope and sent ‘recorded delivery’ and when you get it don’t open it! Keep it in case anyone makes a false claim against your work. Numu has a good guidance in its Copyright for Music Creators

Copyright in a recording, however, lasts for 50 years from the end of the calendar year it was released. That means for recorded music you usually have to go a long way back before ‘old recordings’ have come into the public domain; for instance some of the ‘The Beatles’ recordings emerge into the public domain in 2012 – but not the music itself, that remains in copyright and in their case the 70 years countdown hasn’t begun yet!

Music sampling is a ‘natural’ outcome of some aspects of working with digital technologies in the same way that collage is in visual arts and montage may be in film. Guidance is to work with materials which: are in the public domain; you have permission to use; are licenced through an ‘some rights shared’ licence as those in CC Mixtr ; or be creative and make (and share?) your own stuff!

Music piracy has been a major issue for the music industry with the use of file sharing websites becoming a new category of copyright infringement in many countries.

Working within the CPD Act the following is the permitted use of copyrighted recorded music in schools in the UK:

·     Legitimately purchased records, CDs, DVDs can be played in schools for curriculum use and to audiences of children and teachers.  See Chapter III sections 32-36A of the of the CDP Act Ripping tracks for any purpose is not a permitted act.

·      With PRSfor Music  andPPL licences (from CEFM), recorded music can be played within the school for general, social and ‘extra-curricular activity. See ‘Licensing ‘Section 2’,

Music beyond the school gates.

Increasingly schools need to communicate their music activity with others beyond the school itself. Working online provides an ideal method but music online may mean a range of different things: embedded in a website; files shared through a vle; played as part of a podcast; music in on-line radio and broadcasting; video or flash animation. Offline might mean performances, D/V-jaying or distribution by CD or DVD. If you are working in a location outside school – such as a conference or arts centre – it may have in place a licence to enable the playing of pre-recorded copyright music … or it may not. If you are using music you or students have created then there’s not too much problem other than making sure you/they have put your/their mark and intentions re copyright and authorship on the work along with any credits to other people that are due. If you are using music that is in copyright and owned by someone else then you have to get permission first.

The position with regard to ‘on-line licencing’ is complex and developing. The PRS for music website indicates the range of different on-line licences that are currently available in the UK for different digital uses of music.

The Audio Network educational licence is exploring with the NEN how this new iteration of on-line licensing fits with existing licences such as the PRS and PPL blanket licences many schools have for in-school use of copyright recorded music and the needs of schools to share resources and student outcomes beyond the school boundary and vle. For more information about on-line licences see Module 2, Unit 3. insert internal link.

Music Resources

 numu: a UK-based safe international collaborative music creation and sharing web community for young people with a good ‘about Copyright’ section.

 Audio Network Schools Licence is available to schools in the UK over the NEN and provides production music at a professional level for video and other media work. All the tracks are original compostions and recordings, so synchronisation rights are ‘cleared’ for creative, curriculum and examination use within schools and through the schools VLE. A one-step process permits use of created works on-line and in performances beyond school.

 Sound Rights: afree online resource from UK Music about the music industry and copyright .. takes a creative approach to music creation and it’s value in society.

 Playtime school’s subscription service supported by UKMusic, the Music Manifesto and UK music rights societies. It provides access to a huge catologue of music of all types by the original artists including a lot of classic pop for use - in curriculum activities; within the school premises; via streaming only – but not to public audiences or for downloading or re-use.

 MusicUK - Education creative education and the skills andenterprise agenda.

 Pro-Music: An international coalition of music interests supporting ‘legitimate use of music online’.

 ccmixter Online community featuring original tracks and re-mixes licenced under Creative Commons which supports sampling, remixing and mash-ups. Dig’s search tool at helps you search for CC licenced music.

 JISC Digital Mediaprovides technical advice of working with, managing and creating with digital media including audio. Made for the FE/HE sector it is probably best used by those with some prior knowledge or with high self-learning motivation.


Invention and Design

Learning about patents, design and trade marks has been an established part of the UK Technology curriculums for many years and along with copyright is often a part of Enterprise education.

‘Crackin’ Ideas' is project, exhibition and competition featuring ‘Wallace and Grommit’ (who of course are copyright ‘Aardman’).  See for details, games, information and grand stimulation.

Think KiT is a resource for teachers to promote understanding of IPRand enterprise. Produced by  the UK IP Office it was widely distributed to schools in CD format.    Download ‘Think Kit’ teacher notes.

The Visual Arts and Photography

If you make a painting, or a piece sculpture or weave a textile hanging or design a poster or take a photograph you have copyright of it. Traditionally artists have signed and dated their work to establish their credentials as the creator and today that has become a mark of the works original copyright. A painting may of course be owned by someone else such as a Gallery or Museum, town council or private collector in which case they own the copyright. Pupils have copyright of the original works they produce.

Copyright in the visual arts – included in the category of ‘artistic works’ in the CDP Act – lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

Looking at artwork and photography on the web you are able under ‘fair dealing’ to download a copy for research and private study. You are not, however, permitted to copy that image, re-use in, say, a presentation, or to re-distribute it through, for instance a website unless you have permissions to do so. Even if the image is of a painting done hundreds of years ago and it is in the public domain the image you are copying was made only a few years ago and someone owns that. Many cultural sector and commercial sources do extend their terms and consitions to include ‘classroom’ use , though this is quite variable.  Taking into account web materials from other countries adds further complexity as copyright regulations are not the same worldwide.

Copying, adapting, parodying, ‘homages’ and ‘tributes’ are fundamental to the Arts and to Arts education and many artists use these as part of their working practice.

Using secondary scources within a work requires use of materials for which there are permissions or seeking permission to use the material.

 DACs is the collecting society for artists and their website includes a series of Fact Sheets on ‘copyright’ and which can be downloaded as pdfs. Very useful to teachers and older students interested in how the visual arts work in the UK.

 The Arts Council publishes guidance for it’s community which helps to increase the understanding of copyright for artists and how it helps them establish their work publicly and perhaps commercially.