From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

When someone has an original idea, and they capture that idea in a material form such as a piece of art, writing, music or computer software code, then that person owns the ‘copyright’ in that piece of work.

This means, for example, that they can decide who can make a copy of the work, and who can publish it, email it, and display it on the internet. Using all or part of a work which belongs to someone else can be an infringement of ‘copyright’. A copyright owner can take legal action against someone who infringes their copyright.

What can a student copy and download from the Internet?

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) sets out what rights copyright owners have. It also recognises that students may need to use copyright works to help them learn. So it allows students to use copyright materials for their studies, within limits. The Act calls this ‘fair dealing’, and it means that students do the following:

  1. Reproduce literary, dramatic and musical works for the purposes of research or study within the following limits:
  • one article in a periodical publication (or more if for different research or a different course of study); or.
  • In the case of any other work, a reasonable portion which means:
    • if the work is published in hardcopy, is longer than 10 pages and is not an artistic work, 10% of the total number of pages, or one chapter;
    • if the work is published in electronic form, 10% of the total number of words in the work, or if the work is divided into chapters, one chapter.
  1. Students can also use audio-visual copyright material for the purpose of research or study if that use is fair. Whether the use is fair will depend on similar factors as for copying more than a reasonable portion of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. It is a question of judgment whether a use will be fair. Students should seek the advice of school staff before using copyright audio-visual material.
  1. Students may also communicate (e.g. email or display on the Internet or an intranet) copyright materials for research or study, as long as their use is considered to be 'fair'. However, great care should be taken as making copyright material widely available over the Internet is unlikely to be considered 'fair'.

What should students avoid doing without consulting a teacher or librarian?

Students should not use copyright material other than as described in the previous section.

In particular, some things that students should be careful to avoid are:

  • Downloading music files from the internet without paying for a licence
  • Downloading computer software or games without paying for a licence
  • Uploading music or video files to the Internet or sharing them via a peer-to-peer network
  • Making copies of music on CDs or films on DVD.

Podcasts that are available to download from the internet usually only allow the person that downloaded the podcast to use it. You should check the terms of use on the website, but it is generally ok to download podcasts and listen to them or watch them, but making copies to share with friends is not allowed.

School teachers and librarians can help with questions about copyright and avoiding copyright infringement.

Do you need to seek permission to use copyright material?

If a student wishes to use copyright material in a way which goes beyond what is permitted under 'fair dealing', then the student will need to get permission from the copyright owner.  Download a template (Word) for a letter seeking permission from a copyright owner.

More information