Education Licenses

Licences for use in schools often use the term 'education use' - but seldom mean exactly the same thing by it!

 “Education Use” is a very general term which is often used in the terms and conditions of use attached to websites and in the licences of digital resources - but what different organisations mean by the term can vary enormously. In the realm of copyright and licensing you cannot simple assume your idea of “education use” is the same as that envisaged by, for instance, education supplier or gallery - read the small print.

Education Licences should NOT over-ride Fair Dealing or the Education Exceptions set out in the UK Copyright Act.

 Many suppliers give flexible use in-school but don’t provide for sharing beyond school to protect their commercial market and often the conditons of copyright they have agreed to with their authors and the owners of third party materials that they are using.

 Increasingly suppliers are recognising the need for education licences to include 'the extended school', in particular the use of VLE.

 The development of secure access to resources through 'Shibboleth' - a standard secure access system - developed by the UK Access Management Federation (UKFAM) presents new opportunities for suppliers to make materials available on-line to UK schools and other education establishments. Schools join the system through their Local Authorities (LA), their Regional Broadband Consortia (RBC) or, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, through their national schools networks - 'Education Scotland' ('Glow') and 'C2Kni'.

The diagram shows the main ‘areas’ for education use from ‘private study’ to the public and commercial. Schools obtain many licences with the resources they subscribe to - but not all cover the same range of uses. The problem is how material legitimately gained from differently licenced sources can be brought together and shared by pupils and teachers during the process and as the outcomes of their work - at least within the school community and home. The diagram is in the Public Domain: so you can copy it, adapt it and share it without getting permisions and without acknowledgements.

Some Examples of Licence arrangements

'Heritage Explorer'
'Heritage Explorer' is a vast collection of high-quality images of the history of the England made available for education by English Heritage. The terms and conditions of use define education use to include: school use, community history projects and making teaching materials for use in schools including IWB - provided these are not commercial resources. The images can also be used 'beyond' the school: in public exhibitions and on websites, provided they are not-for-profit or for commercial gain. Images used must contain links to the Heritage Explorer website and the RE-USER must notify English Heritage. In providing these permissions to DOWNLOAD, USE and RE-USE their materials it is also pointed out that, they remain 'protected by copyright'; permissions to USE and RE-USE the images isn't a transfer to you or a waiver of the English Heritage copyright - they are just permission to use them for a specified 'educational' purpose.

This is an image of a painting of Charles Darwin, aged about 72, by John Collier. It was painted in 1883, after his death, but is a copy of a portrait from 1881. This version was done with advice from Darwin’s sons on how to make it an even better likeness of him. He is wearing his cloak and holding his gardening hat, perhaps as a reminder that he was ultimately an outdoor scientist who studied things first hand for himself.  The 'Heritage Explorer' reference number is J970175.  The image is DOWNLOADED and RE-USED here in a public website after notifying English Heritage as required by the Terms and Conditions of use of Heritage Explorer.   Heritage Explorer homepage

'British Pathé news film archive
British Pathé make access to their huge archive of news films available to schools with an education use licence. If you have a subscription licence you can use the digitised films from the British Pathé archive in school and through the school’s VLE; you can re-edit the film and show it in school, but you can’t put your film or presentation onto the WWW or make multiple copies of it onto a DVD. In this case the copyright stays with British Pathé and you acknowledge that in your film or presentation but the education licence limits where and how you can show your work, to minimise the risk of their film assets being distributed publicly with a consequent effect on British Pathé sales and their commercial operations.
 British Pathé  website. Check out the 'Schools' section. 


Licences and the Copyright Act make quite specifc use of terms that schools might use much more generally.

Public” is another term that may have a precise meaning in a licence. The blanket licences that most schools have to cover recording broadcasts (ERA) and playing recorded music (PPL/PRS) define “public” as anybody who is not a pupil or teacher or directly supervising the learning activity; therefore their licences don’t cover school assemblies at which parents are present or an event where pupils from another school are present as the are classed as public events, because 'other' people are present.

In a similar way blanket licences also define “curricular” in a quite specific manner referring to subject teaching and not covering many activities that might be included in as school’s wider education or social objectives.

 education premisies” could be defined by:

Questions to ask ...

 The term “education use” can be defined quite differently by different licences sometimes making it difficult should you wish to mix resources from different sources.

Key questions to ask:

  • Is the licence school location specific?
  • Does it permit use through a VLE or the school’s authenticated login?
  • Does it permit the transfer of resources to other platforms – for instance from IWB resources to a school website or from website to DVD for instance or from a DVD onto a mobile device?
  • Does it permit the resources to be modified to suit the pupils’ learning needs?
  • What is it’s definition of ‘curricular’?
  • What is it’s definition of ‘public’?
  • Does it permit sharing with other schools over an authenticated LA, RBC or national education network?
  • Does it permit sharing with schools in other countries?
  • Does it permit publishing to the public or onto the WWW?
  • Does the licence provide information and a clear route to extend the licence to cover the other things you and your pupils need to do?