Commercial Supplier Licences

‘Commercial supplier licences’ may be bought by the school or by the LA for all its schools or by a regional or national education network. Schools commonly use commercial software licences for much of their ICT needs giving pupils and teachers use of a wide range of software and resources in school.

‘Commercial supplier licenses’ cover all types of software from operating systems, office applications, image editing software, resource banks, e-learning resources, IWB systems to mobile systems ‘aps’.

Some suppliers require users to agree by clicking ‘yes’ to the terms and conditions of a licence each time they download a resource to help underline how their film files can be used by pupils and teachers. In most cases if a school does not renew its subscription to a resource teachers cannot continue to use the materials that have already been downloaded. For instance the British Pathe Schools Licence gives schools in subscribing regions of the UK the opportunity to use its film files to make teaching resources and to use in learning activities. Once used by pupils the materials have an in-perpetuity licence in their new state, but it is an infringement of the licence to distribute the original film materials to non-subscribers or through the Internet. See


In some, but by no means in all cases, licences may allow use of the materials through a VLE or at home. Having a VLE or authenticated access does not, in itself, automatically confer rights for the use of all materials available in the school through them – the materials need to have the appropriate extended licences before you can use them through the VLE.

Royalties are payments made to artists or authors for the use of their work.  In some cases if you ask permission to use, for instance, a poem or a photograph for a resource you are making, you may be asked to pay a charge to obtain a licence to use the resource. There are two types of payment method:

  • royalty free
  • rights managed

‘Royalty free’ means that once you have paid you are free to use the materials how you like and in perpetuity (for ever). ‘Rights managed’ means you are given the rights to use the materials for a specific purpose only so you can’t re-use the materials again for something else without obtaining a news et of permissions and paying again. Rights managed materials are often restricted in the length of time they can be used and even in what country or territories. This is why online newspaper services often don’t include the photographs that accompanied the original printed article – to avoid additional payment for use in a different publishing form and for an additional period.

In schools the subscription to an online service may have been paid for by, for instance, an RBC or a national network as in the case of Scotland’s Glow ‘Images for Schools’, so the materials are free at the point of use.

On the WWW the use of terms such as ‘royalty free’ or ‘free’ can become very confusedwith the advertising pitch of the website and careful reading of the terms and conditions and scrutiny of the source of the materials advertised may be necessary.

JISC Collections for Schools has developed a ‘model licence’ to provide schools with the flexibility to use resources in schools and through their VLE. All the suppliers working with JISC Collections work to the same licence terms.