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Understanding Website Terms and Conditions


There are many websites which allow copying for 'educational use'. Just because material is publicly available on the internet does not mean it is 'free'.

Teachers need to read the terms and conditions of a website when wanting to copy material from it. If the terms and conditions allow copying for 'educational use', a teacher will not have to rely on the Statutory Text and Artistic Licence.

When do the terms and conditions include ‘educational use’?

'Educational use' is included if the terms and conditions of the website permit copying for any of the following uses:

  • Non-commercial use
  • Use in your organisation
  • Personal or non-commercial use
  • Educational use
  • Free copying

'Educational use' is not included if the terms and conditions of a website state that copying is permitted for:

  • Personal use
  • Personal and non-commercial use
  • Personal, non-commercial
  • Copying not permitted

What about if there are no terms and conditions on the website?

Where a website has:

  • no terms and conditions; or
  • no terms and conditions but contains a copyright statement (i.e © Stuart Williams 2009);

the website does not permit copying for 'educational use'.

Example: Australian Media and Communications Authority

The Australian Media and Communications Authority website’s terms and conditions allow for copying for educational purposes even though the term 'educational use' is not included. The terms and conditions state:

This material is copyright © Commonwealth of Australia, except where otherwise indicated. You may download, store in cache, display, print and reproduce the material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice, or links to it where they appear) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. 

Examples of ‘free for education’ websites

1. Australian Screen 

Australian Screen terms and conditions state:

You may save, copy, print, distribute or download for your own personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes only. Commercial exploitation of materials on this website is prohibited. 

2. Museum Victoria

Museum Victoria terms and conditions state:

The information, text, images, sounds and audio-visual material in this website are for personal or educational non-commercial use only and may not otherwise be copied, re-sold, re-distributed or framed, or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, without prior written permission.

For a list of free for education websites, see Appendix 7 - OER References and Links - in our Toolkit for Teachers, Curriculum and eLearning Developers.

Websites containing resources that are ‘free for education’

Some websites have multiple terms and conditions. The generic copyright notice may state that copying is only permitted for “personal, non-commercial” purposes; however parts of the website provide specific educational resources that may be used educational purposes.

A good example of this is the BBC website. Its generic terms and conditions state: 

 All copyright, trade marks, design rights, patents and other intellectual property rights (registered and unregistered) in and on bbc.co.uk and all content (including all applications) located on the site shall remain vested in the BBC or its licensors (which includes other users). You may not copy, reproduce, republish, disassemble, decompile, reverse engineer, download, post, broadcast, transmit, make available to the public, or otherwise use bbc.co.uk content in any way except for your own personal, non-commercial use. You also agree not to adapt, alter or create a derivative work from any bbc.co.uk content except for your own personal, non-commercial use. Any other use of bbc.co.uk content requires the prior written permission of the BBC.

However, part of the website contains educational resources which can be used for educational purposes. The terms state:

Teachers, pupils and parents may make a copy, including a print-out or photocopy, of any part of the School's Website for their own personal, non-commercial use, including for private study or research. 

Any other use, unless specified in these Guidelines, requires the prior written permission of the BBC.

  • Here are some examples of what this means in practice:
  • Parents may print copies for use by their children at home;
  • Teachers may make copies for lesson preparation;
  • Teachers can ask pupils for access to work or any part of the Schools Website in the classroom or at home;
  • Pupils can download, and print out and keep pages from the Website, in the classroom