The Essential Guide to Implications of Copyright Legislation When Developing Learning Programs Leave a comment


Navigating the world of digital learning in Australia requires a keen understanding of copyright. The Australian copyright law, specifically the Copyright Act 1968, sets the stage for how educational materials can be used, especially within a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). It is not just a set of laws; it is a guide that ensures educators and institutions respect the creations of the mind, from books to online resources.

While many might believe that online content is free for the taking, the reality is different. There are rules to follow, permissions to seek, and various projects that come under the purview of this law. Whether using materials under a creative commons licence or understanding the guidelines of the Australian Copyright Council, it is crucial to get it right. This guide aims to simplify these complexities, offering clear insights for anyone involved in the educational sector.

  • A form of IP (Intellectual Property) that protects the creations of the mind.
  • Governed by the Australian copyright law and the Copyright Act 1968.
  • Ensures the owner of copyright has control over their work’s use.

Types of Works Covered:

  • Literary works like books and online articles.
  • Artistic creations such as paintings and photographs.
  • Musical compositions and their recordings.
  • Films, TV, and radio broadcasts.

Table: Duration of Copyright

Type of Work Duration
Literary, Dramatic Life of the author + 70 years
Artistic Life of the creator + 70 years
Sound recordings 70 years from the year of publication
Films 70 years from the year of publication
  • It avoids legal complications and ensures compliance.
  • Respect the intellectual property rights of creators.
  • Enhances the quality and credibility of educational content.

The Digital Shift:

  • The rise of online courses and eLearning platforms.
  • Increased use of multimedia content in lessons.
  • The challenge of embedding videos, images, and other digital content in eLearning courses.

Common Misconceptions:

  • “It’s online, so it’s free.” Just because content is available online does not mean it is free to use. The Australian copyright law protects most online materials.
  • “I credited the author, so it’s okay.” While attribution is essential, it does not replace the need for copyright permission.

Table: Digital Content and Copyright Considerations

Type of Digital Content Consideration
Videos Ensure you have the right to embed or link the video.
Images Check for Creative Commons licences or seek direct permission.
Articles & Blogs Always attribute and ensure content sharing is allowed.
Interactive Tools Some tools may have proprietary rights; always check the terms of use.

Best Practices for Digital Learning:

  • Always check the source of information and its copyright status.
  • Use platforms that respect copyright, like the Australian Copyright Agency’s digital library.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Seek advice or use alternative content.

The Internet: A Treasure Trove of Content

  • Vast amounts of information, from articles to images.
  • Easy access can lead to unintentional misuse.
  • Importance of discerning between free-to-use and copyrighted content.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Copyrighted by Default: The Australian copyright law automatically protects most content online, from blog posts to images.
  • Terms of Use: Many websites have terms of use or copyright notices. These provide guidelines on how you can use the content.
  • Creative Commons Licence: Some online materials are under this licence, allowing specific uses without seeking direct permission.

Table: Internet Content and Their Typical Copyright Status

Type of Internet Content Typical Copyright Status
Blog Posts Copyrighted; need permission for extensive use.
Stock Images Varying licences: some are free, others require purchase/credit.
News Articles Copyrighted; linking is usually okay, but copying is not.
User-generated Comments Copyrighted to the individual user; seek permission.

Safe Practices for Using Internet Content:

  • Always look for licensing information or terms of use.
  • When using images, opt for platforms that state licensing, like Creative Commons websites.
  • If you need clarification on the copyright status, contact the content creator or owner for clarity.

The Role of Attribution

Understanding Attribution:

  • It is not just a courtesy but often a legal requirement.
  • Acknowledges the intellectual efforts of the creator.
  • Ensures transparency and credibility in educational content.

Why is Attribution Important?

  • Respect the intellectual property rights of creators.
  • It avoids potential legal disputes and ensures compliance with Australian copyright law.
  • Enhances the trustworthiness of the content.

Table: Common Types of Attribution

Type of Work Typical Attribution Requirement
Literary Works Author’s name, title of the work, publication date.
Artistic Works Artist’s name, title of the artwork, date of creation.
Music Composer’s name, song title, and date of release.
Digital Content Creator’s name, platform/source, date of access.

Best Practices for Proper Attribution:

  • Always provide clear and accurate credit close to the content used.
  • For Creative Commons Attribution, follow the specified format by the creator.
  • When using third-party material, especially in digital learning environments, ensure that the creator’s name and source of information are mentioned.
  • Ensure all are credited appropriately if the content has multiple creators or sources.

Responsibilities of RTOs

The Weight of Responsibility:

  • Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are at the forefront of education.
  • With this role comes the duty to uphold the Australian copyright law and ensure content compliance.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Content Oversight: Monitor materials used across all courses to ensure they respect copyright.
  • Staff Training: Ensure educators are well-informed about copyright, from the basics to the nuances.
  • Licence Management: Keep track of all licences, whether for specific types of work or blanket licences covering a range of content.

Table: RTO’s Approach to Copyright

Action RTO’s Responsibility
Using copyrighted materials Seek permission or ensure content falls under an exception.
Introducing new course content Review for potential copyright issues.
Sharing materials with students Ensure content is appropriately licensed or falls under fair use.
Responding to copyright claims Address promptly and make necessary content adjustments.

Proactive Steps for RTOs:

  • Collaborate with bodies like the Australian Copyright Agency to stay updated on copyright changes.
  • Regularly review and update course materials to ensure they align with current copyright laws.
  • Consider tools and platforms that assist in copyright compliance, reducing the risk of unintentional breaches.

Decoding Exceptions and Licences:

  • Not all uses of copyrighted materials require direct permission.
  • The Australian copyright law provides certain exceptions and offers various licences to facilitate content use.
  • Fair Dealing: Allows use of copyrighted materials for specific purposes like research, study, criticism, or news reporting.
  • Educational Purposes: Certain content can be used in educational settings without infringing copyright.
  • Performance in Class: Teachers and students can perform copyrighted works in a classroom setting without seeking permission.

Table: Common Licences in Education

Licence Type What It Covers
Creative Commons Licence Offers various levels of permissions for content use.
Education Licences Allows schools to use copyrighted materials for internal educational purposes.
Public Performance Licences Permits the performance of music by students and teachers.
Photocopying Licences Allows for the reproduction of certain printed materials.

Guidelines for RTOs:

  • Always check the type of licence associated with content before use.
  • When relying on exceptions, ensure the use aligns with the specific criteria the Australian copyright law sets.
  • For broader use of materials, consider obtaining blanket licences that cover a range of content.

Practical Tips for RTOs

  • The realm of copyright can be intricate, but with the proper knowledge and approach, RTOs can navigate it effectively.

Essential Tips for Compliance:

  • Stay Informed: Regularly consult with the Australian Copyright Council to stay updated on changes and nuances in the law.
  • Seek Permissions: When unsure, it is best to exercise care and seek approval from the copyright owner.
  • Use Trusted Sources: Opt for platforms and repositories that clearly state licensing terms, such as the Creative Commons website.
  • Document Everything: Maintain records of all permissions, licences, and communications related to copyrighted materials.

Table: Addressing Common Scenarios

Scenario Recommended Action
Unsure about an online image’s copyright status Seek direct permission or use alternative licensed images.
Want to use a song in a course video Check if it is covered under an educational licence or obtain specific permission.
Planning to reproduce a book chapter for students Ensure it falls under fair dealing exceptions or get the necessary licence.

Final Thoughts:

  • Copyright is not just a set of laws; it reflects respect for creators and their intellectual property rights.
  • With a proactive approach and a commitment to understanding copyright, RTOs can deliver quality education while upholding the highest standards of content integrity.


  • The world of copyright is vast and ever-evolving, especially in education and digital learning environments.
  • For RTOs, understanding and respecting the Australian copyright law is not just about compliance but also about valuing the intellectual efforts of creators.

Key Takeaways:

  • Respect for Creations: Every piece of content, from a simple image to a complex article, results from someone’s effort and creativity. Respecting copyright is acknowledging that effort.
  • Stay Updated: With the dynamic nature of copyright laws and the continuous introduction of new content types, staying informed is crucial.
  • Seek Guidance: Whether it is from the Australian Copyright Council or other relevant bodies, always seek guidance when you need clarification.

Endorsing VET Resources:

VET Resources is your go-to source for those in the RTO sector looking for expert advice and guidance on various topics, including copyright. With a wealth of experience and a commitment to supporting the education sector, VET Resources ensures you are always on the right path.

Final Words:

As we navigate the digital age, the importance of understanding copyright cannot be overstated. It is a rule of thumb that ensures fairness, respect, and innovation coexist. By adhering to the guidelines and always operating on the side of caution, RTOs can continue to provide quality education while respecting the rights of content creators.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What role does a state government agency play in copyright regulations?

  • A state government agency typically oversees and enforces regional copyright regulations within its specific state or territory, ensuring creators and users adhere to local laws.

Q2. Can I use third-party IP in my project without permission?

  • No, using third-party IP requires obtaining appropriate permissions or licenses to avoid copyright infringement.

Q3. Are alpha stock images free to use in publications?

  • While some alpha stock images might be free, checking their licensing terms is essential. Some might require purchase, attribution, or other usage restrictions.

Q4. Does the Victorian government department have specific guidelines for using copyrighted materials?

  • Yes, the Victorian government department has guidelines for using copyrighted materials, especially for official publications and communications. It is crucial to consult their specific guidelines before use.

Q5. Can I use content from TV and radio broadcasts in my classroom?

  • Content from TV and radio might be protected by copyright. However, there are exceptions for educational purposes. It is advisable to seek prior written permission or consult the Australasian Performing Right Association for clarity.

Q6. Do I need permission to use a third-party image on my website?

  • Yes, utilising an image from an external source usually necessitates acquiring permission or a licence from the copyright owner unless the image comes with a licence permitting its free usage.

Q7. How long does copyright protection last for a piece of work?

  • Copyright protection lasts for a specific period, often the life of the creator plus a set number of years, such as 70 years after the author’s death.

Q8. Is the Commonwealth Coat of Arms protected under copyright?

  • Yes, the Commonwealth Coat of Arms is protected, and its use is restricted. It cannot be used without permission from the relevant state or territory authority.

Q9. Can I use third-party material cited in large language models for my research?

  • Large language models, like ChatGPT, generate content based on vast datasets. While they provide information, direct citations from third-party material should be verified and appropriately attributed to ensure copyright compliance.

Q10. How can I ensure that the content I am using respects the name of the creator?

  • Always provide proper attribution, giving credit to the creator’s name. If the content has licensing terms, follow them diligently. When in doubt, seek guidance or permission from the copyright holder.

The information presented on the VET Resources blog is for general guidance only. While we strive for accuracy, we cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. VET Resources is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Always consult a professional for advice tailored to your circumstances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Free Sample