Managing Copyright and Copyright in School Policies

There are a number of areas that school management has to consider in dealing with 'copyright':

  • The responsibilities and overview within the Management Team
  • The roles for subject leaders - a) resources and b) curriculum
  • The role for network managers and librarians
  • Information to the workforce, visitors and parents
  • Information to pupils
  • Curriculum
  • Training
  • School policies
  • Policy for school publications
  • Policy for online or web and digital activity
  • Copyright Infringement – procedure
  • Source of legal advice

The development of out-of-school access, increased number of people that may legitimately use or share resources and the fact that today we are all, not just consumers of resources, but users, distributors and creators of content requires a paradigmatic shift in our thinking about school Policies and Guidance


School Policy

Copyright probably doesn’t need its own policy in schools; however, references to intellectual property, copyright and licensing should be present in the Senior Management Plan and other policy documents such as e-Safety and Acceptable Usage and relevant curriculum and community policies. To make this effective the school or LA may need to put together a summary document covering the issues of copyright under a heading such as ‘IPR, Copyright and Licencing in school’   and having it available for information to the school community.

Copyright policies shouldn’t become a barrier or an unmanageable administrative burden.

Some points to consider in forming policy

  • Digital culture: with digital technologies not only are we ‘consumers’ of copyright resources but everyone is 1) a user, 2) a distributor or publisher and 3) a creator.
  • People: Guidance and policy about Intellectual Policy, Copyright and Licensing will have to cover teachers and pupils. It must also cover teacher assistants, technicians, administrative staff, management staff and all the rest of the school workforce; pupils; visiting or temporary professionals; governors; volunteer helpers; parents, guardians and family; etc.
  • Out-of-school access: Guidance and policy about Intellectual Policy, Copyright and Licensing will have to deal with out-of-school access to work and resources through: open access; logins (individual and shared); VLE including home access; mobile devices; etc.
  • Positive approaches: Guidance should promote a positive view about Intellectual Property and Copyright that encourages learning and teaching and supports everyone in the school as a creative contributor while maintaining the balance that respects the work and wishes of others.
  • Curriculum: Are there opportunities in the curriculum to deal with copyright as 1) user, 2) distributor or publisher and 3) creator. Do you cover all three situations? Is there some sense of progression in information about, understanding of and use of copyright for pupils?  Are pupils given opportunity to discuss issues of copyright, innovation and creativity in the digital age? Are pupils taught how to use copyright for their own work and about its value in society?
  • Acknowledgements: Promote the use of acknowledging sources and copyright in pupil work and teacher resources, and school publications and link to issues of plagiarism, verifying sources, developing ‘digital literacy’, etc; for both pupils and teachers.
  • Resources: Have a good range of resources for staff and pupils to use which have terms and conditions that are flexible for education use and re-use in your extended online environment. Have a good list of websites where education use is permitted and copyright infringement isn’t a risk including a preferred list of collaborative websites or services.
  • Licences: Have core licences in place for copying/scanning (CLA), recording broadcasts (ERA Plus) and playing music (CEFM). Know which additional licences you may need for other occasional activities.
  • Network management: Have clear guidance on what can be stored  - and perhaps what can’t - for long-term multiple user access across the school network and through the VLE.
  • Publishing and Distributing: Have clear guidance on the implication of publishing and distributing materials beyond school whether by WWW, Web 2.0 services, P2P, DVD or analogue copying.
  • Permissions: Provide standard template docs and an agreed process to all staff for formal requests for permissions, etc. which can be adapted to suit a particular situation
  • Parental sign-off: Do the sign-off letters for parents include copyright and cover home access? Does this include a general permission for the school/LA to use pupil work? A general letter will probably help but there will still be situations where a separate letter detailing the situation and requesting permission might be advisable.
  • Guidance: Provide role specific guidance to the workforce, visiting professionals, volunteers, parents and governors. Provide information to parents and other adults.
  • Copyright Infringement: Is there a defined process known to the workforce if a case for copyright infringement is made against the school or a member of its workforce or community? At what point or in what circumstances might the Local Authority or the schools legal entity need to be involved?
  • Training: Are there opportunities to include Copyright within workforce training? ‘Copy Rights and Wrong’ is designed to provide an on-line tool to help CPD.

Download the ‘NEN Copyright and School Policy’ document:   NEN_CRW_PH_010.pdf 


External Partners and Funders

Schools increasingly work in partnerships with other organisations and use a wide range of funding providers. Within any agreements that are made schools need:

  • to protect their resources and the work of their staff and pupils
  • be aware of the measures assumed, taken or required by other organisations in the realm of copyright
  • ensure clarity of which party to the agreement is responsible for clearance of permissions
  • ensure that external agencies are made aware of the special situations that apply to working with children, teachers and schools
  • ensure that aspects such as the use of children’s work are not left to ‘chance’
  • ensure that subsequent use for school benefit is not restricted
  • ensure ‘due diligence’ procedures for storing digital resources and using third party materials
  • have in place measures for sharing materials and collaborating with others
  • agree forms of ‘acknowledgement’ which all involved can use during and afterwards
  • agree licencing of materials that supports the mutual aims of the school and its partners and/or the funding body

Copyright needs to be addressed before agreements are made as it is very difficult to deal with retrospectively.

Check Module 3 for more information on copyright and pupils, teachers, school workforce and ‘self-employed’ educators. See Module 3



money icon The terms "commercial" and "non-commercial" are important criteria in 'fair dealing' - though they are not defined by the CDPA. 'Exceptions' to copyright and 'fair dealing' do not permit commercial use. Obviously selling materials is a commercial operation but if you publish or distribute materials from a copyright owner while you are not making a profit you may be having an impact on their sales and that could be grounds for a copyright infringement action. Copyright owners could also complain about the detrimental commercial impact on them, not because of a direct hit on their sales, but because of brand misuse or the effect on the copyright owner's reputation and future business.

Commercial is not just be selling but could include promoting an organisation or campaign materials - and that could include, for instance, school brochures, events or websites. Promoting and developing the school as an organisation may not be seen in the same category as the teaching and learning in some cases of (mis)use of copyright or licenced resources or materials.

The UK IP Office provides this underpinning guidance, "In assessing whether your use of the work is permitted or not you must assess if there is any financial impact on the copyright owner because of your use. Where the impact is not significant, the use may be acceptable." However, commercial impact is not the only consideration - and your idea of what is significant might not be in accord with someone else;s.

Partnership Working. 'Commercial' could also be  applied to the activities of organisations who work with schools but are not, themselves, education insitutions. How copyright of outcomes is managed in partnerships where the organisations are different in kind needs to be thought about early in the process.

Teaching and Learning Resources. Selling resources or training provision by a school might also need to be thought through in terms of the use of licenced materials or the copyright issues associated with the creation of resources.

Another term that is used is "not-for-profit" meaning an organisation, like a charitable trust, that may be run as a business though not for the profit of shareholders or the owners.

Education Use. Licences or the terms and conditions of resources are often for 'education use' another term which may have a limiting definition as to how the materials can be used.


Some Management Resources

 ‘Copy Rights and Wrongs’ -

 ‘IPR Toolkit’ has a section considering institutional policy statements which need some adjustment for school situation; see Section 3. Template Policy Statements

 For information for the wider scope of working with Web 2.0 including diagnostic tools for Copyright Permissions see  JISC Legal’s ‘Web2Rights’ and theWeb2Rights diagnostic tools’