Intellectual Property and Copyright

Copyright is the legal means by which authors and other creators control the use of their work and are able to earn a profit from it.

The Department's Intellectual Property and Copyright Policy is consistent with the Whole of Victorian Government Intellectual Property Policy. For detailed advice including the foundation principles underlying the policy, responsibilities and governance, see: Intellectual Property and Copyright Policy (Department of Education and Training 2018).

Advice and support

Contact the Knowledge Management team: phone 1800 359 140 or email:

Purpose of the policy 

To ensure school (and corporate) staff (including contractors and volunteers), comply with whole of Government requirements when creating or using intellectual property. The policy clarifies how:

  • the Department grants rights to its intellectual property, as a public asset, in a manner that maximises its impact, value, accessibility and benefit consistent with the public interest

  • the Department acquires or uses third party intellectual property in a transparent and efficient way, while upholding the law and managing risk appropriately

  • Intellectual property created by employees in the course of their work is owned by the Department.

Copyright is the form of intellectual property most often produced and used by Department staff, including staff in schools.

Copyright law protects the material expression of an idea, but not the idea itself. Copyright protection is automatic in Australia and there is no need for registration. Copyright material is described as 'works' and 'other subject matter' and includes:

  • art (including photos, illustrations, graphs, charts)

  • literature (broadly including all text-based works and web pages)

  • music

  • films

  • broadcasts.

Web pages, podcasts, stock images and teaching resources are all examples of material that may be protected by copyright.

Copying and using copyright material 

Generally copyright materials can only be copied and used in the ways that the owner specifies. For schools, this usually means if:

  • it is covered under a Creative Commons licence
  • it is owned by the Department or other State or territory education departments or schools, or Victorian government departments
  • it is covered by a licence held by the Department that permits the use intended
  • a statutory exception applies, such as Fair Dealing
  • copyright has expired (generally 70 years after the death of the author)
  • specific permission has been obtained from the copyright owner.

Library warning notice

Schools must display warning notices near photocopiers, printers, scanners and devices used to copy audio-visual content. See instructions and samples on the Smartcopying website at: Library Fair Dealing and Copying Notice

The Department also holds licences for schools' uses of copyright material for educational purposes. Generally, these licences apply only to schools' internal uses of copyright material for education.

Smartcopyingthe National Copyright Unit's website, provides comprehensive information for schools about copying and using copyright material, including, FAQs, information sheets and notices.  

Attributing copyright material


  • is the acknowledgment of the original creator of a work when it is copied
  • is usually displayed close to the work, for example, in the caption to a photograph
  • should include the work's title, the name of the creator/owner, the source, and note the terms under which it was copied (for example 'used with permission' or 'licensed under CC BY').

Note: Creators often specify how to attribute their work and these instructions should be followed.

Releasing copyright material owned by the Department

A Creative Commons licence allows an organisation or creator to retain copyright in their material while setting out easily understood licence terms for the public to re-use it.

The Department's Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international licence:

  • is suitable for most material the Department produces for release to the public
  • allows users to copy, communicate, adapt and redistribute its copyright material in any medium or format without seeking permission, as long as appropriate attribution is included with the re-use
  • does not allow re-use of Department and government logos, trademarks and branding, or content supplied by third parties.

Unless there is a reason why particular material should not be made available in this way, the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international licence found in the Department's communications templates, should be generally applied when releasing material to the public.

To help to decide whether material can be released under this licence, check the Department's Copyright Release Guidelines: How to release our content under a copyright licence

The Department also holds licences for schools' uses of copyright material for educational purposes. Generally, these licences apply only to schools' internal uses of copyright material for education.

Related SPAG policies 

Department resources

Other resources

See the Smartcopying website for the Creative Commons Information Pack and copyright and labelling notices as listed below:

Related legislation

  • Copyright Act 1968

  • Public Administration Act 2004