With significant benefits and changes for schools.

The big changes for schools are that the Exceptions for Education now encompass digital technologies and cover all forms of media - film, photography, music, etc as well as text. Importantly for schools working in an authenticated VLE and using systems like IWB are also covered by the Exceptions.

Download detailed summary of Copyright Changes for schools

NB. The detail on the CRW site has not yet been fully updated to reflect the changes, though the approaches to good practice and principles remain the same.

This update October 2014.



Copyright applies to all types of media - books of course where it all began - but also to e-books, films, video, news, music, audio, games, designs, newspapers, archives, libraries AND webstuff.  Digital isn't different.


This is the GOOD NEWS and the easy bit. It is OK for teachers and students to use 'in copyright' materials for their personal study activity, including keeping copies of materials for their own reference. This also applies to everyone else of course.


Jigsaw: Public Domain, through Wikipedia. Author: Amada44There are a range of things in place to help pupils and teachers carry out the curriculum and get on with day to day classroom activity, perparation and homework. Unfortunately they don't add up to complete coverage of everything you might want to do and they don't apply to everything you come across; it is very much a 'good news - bad news' situation and a jigsaw with a few bits missing.

EXCEPTIONS: Good News. There are a number of 'exceptions' to the UK Copyright Act to allow use of copyright materials for learning in schools and some for teaching. Bad news. They don't cover everything you might want to do - especially on-line. Good News.There is a list and explantion of the main exceptions for education in Section 3 of Copy Rights and Wrongs.

TERMS OF USE: Good News. Many resources indicate on their websites how their materials may be used for education. Good examples are Wellcome Library, NEN Gallery, English Heritage and Wikipedia. Annoying News. The details of exactly what they allow is different between nearly every resource. Bad News. Not everyone adopts these good practices.

OPEN LICENCES: Good News. More materials suitable for learning are using open licences - such as Creative Commons, GNU, Open Government Licence. Open licences specify how they can be used, shared and re-used. Challenge. You have to sit down and learn about how they work; which you can do here - Introduction to Creative Commons in Quickstart and here Introduction to Open Licences in Section 2 of Copy Rights and Wrongs

PUBLIC DOMAIN: Good News. There is a lot of older materials which are in the public domain and which are therefore, not in copyright. Good News. Some people put new work into the public domain. Bad News. However, copyright can be claimed or licences required when older materials are digitised, republished or re-used in new works - so not everything old is OK.

PERMISSIONS: Good News. On many occassions a request to use copyright materials for education use will get a 'Yes' answer and sometime this contact or process will have added value as well as a feel-good factor. Bad News - times four. It can take a long time which you haven't got; you may be expected to pay; you may not get a reply; you may not even be able to find who to ask.

BLANKET LICENCES: Good News. Your school has probably invested in blanket licences for photocopying and scanning (CLA), recording broadcast programmes (ERA) and playing recorded music (PRS). Bad News. The Licences probably don't cover everything you want to do. Good News. There is a list with explanation about all the licences for school Section 2 of Copy Rights and Wrongs


ACKNOWLEDGE: The main thing to do is to save the source information, with the copyright and creator acknowledgement so you can a) find the resource again and b) make a reference to it in your work for someone else to check or use and c) know what the copyright situation is should you want to publish it in your work later on. Copyright meets Learning.

LEARN: Increase your skill in indentifying copyright conditions for resources and webstuff and learn about open licences.

RECORD: When you build up sets of resources for pupils or teachers note the copyright situation - for instance three simple categories: personal study only; re-use in school; re-use beyond school.


With digital technology the move from personal study and classroom activity to re-using and publishing materials can be easy and very quick; in many situations it will be a natural part of the learning process or programme.  As you move to RE-USE, PUBLISHING and DISTRIBUTION you have to re-consider the copyright implications - they are not the same as for personal study. Making up new resources and putting them into VLEs, onto DVD, into websites or social network services should set the orange warning light flashing for you to think it through again.