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Using iTunes in Schools

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Playing digital media files already available in the player’s library of content

Teachers can play digital media files from their iTunes library during class under s 28 of the Copyright Act where:

  • it is in the course of education and not for profit; and\
  • the people in the audience or class are giving or receiving the instruction, or directly connected with the place where the instruction is given

For further information on s 28, see information sheet ‘Performance and Communication of Material in Class’.


Acquiring content

Buying content

When buying content from the iTunes store, you must agree to the store’s Terms of Use. These terms state that products purchased from the iTunes store can only be used for ‘personal, non commercial use’.  This expression may not include ‘educational use’. As a result, it is unclear whether the iTunes contract itself prohibits the educational use of content purchased from the iTunes Store.

The Australian Copyright Act contains special exceptions which allow teachers to use sound recordings and video for educational purposes in special circumstances without having to seek the permission of the copyright owner. These exceptions include:

  1. s 28  - Performing and communicating material in class
    eg: playing sound recordings and video in class
  2. s 200AB – Copying and communicating sound recordings and video for educational instruction
    eg: uploading sound recordings and/or video to a password protected content repository (eg school intranet, content management system, wiki or blog) or copying extracts of sound recordings and/or video for use in multimedia educational resources (eg PowerPoints, podcasts, vodcasts)

It is unclear whether the iTunes terms of use would prevent a school from relying on s 28 and s 200AB. There is a risk that a school might be said to be in breach of contract if it plays or copies music downloaded from iTunes.  However, a school would not infringe copyright if the exceptions (s 28 and s 200AB) set out in the Copyright Act applied.

You will need to find out whether your school has decided to rely on the Copyright Act exceptions or avoid using content purchased from iTunes.

Relying on s 200AB

Where a teacher decides to rely on s 200AB, they must ensure their use meets all    s 200AB requirements:

       a. It is for educational instruction

Educational instruction means teaching (including remote teaching), preparation for teaching, preparing materials for students to use for homework or research tasks, or other uses that are in connection with teaching.

       b. It is non-commercial

Your use will be commercial where you, your students or your school are making a profit or gaining a commercial advantage from the use of the material. Cost recovery is OK.

       c. It is a special case

Your use will be a special case where it is narrow in both a qualitative or quantitative sense. This means that you are only using what you need for educational instruction.

       d. It does not conflict with the normal exploitation of the copyright material

Your use will probably conflict with the normal exploitation of the material where it is possible to purchase a similar resource.

       e. It does not prejudice the copyright owner

Your use will prejudice the copyright owner if you:

  • use more than you need
  • expose the content to piracy, such as uploading the educational resource to the internet. Uploading the resource to a password protected intranet, blog, wiki or content management system is OK provided students are not able to make further copies
  • do not remove the educational resource from the password protected intranet, wiki, blog or content management system as soon as practicable after it is no longer required for education instruction.

Using Free iTunes Content

The iTunes store contains a variety of free content. This includes music, TV shows, films, podcasts and applications.This content can be streamed direct from the iTunes store or downloaded into your iTunes player without payment and used for educational purposes

A user is not required to accept the iTunes Terms of Use when downloading free content. As a result, it is unlikely that the iTunes Terms of Use will be claimed to affect how the content can be used. Teachers should try to use free iTunes content instead of purchased iTunes content wherever possible to minimise the risk that they are breaching the conditions of use.


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