Performance and Communication of Copyright Material in Class

Performance and Communication of Copyright Material in Class

Updated 9 October 2023

Schools are allowed to perform and communicate copyright material in class under a free exception in section 28 of the Copyright Act.

We sometimes call this the ‘show and tell’ exception and it covers all types of copyright material.

How can I use materials in reliance on s 28?

Teachers and students can read or perform a literary, dramatic or musical work, or play sound recordings in class under s 28, provided:

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

Teachers and students can also communicate:

to classes, to enable classroom performances  including the playing of sound recordings and films using new technologies.

A ‘performance’ is any visual or aural presentation in class (such as reading a poem or storybook to a class or showing a film).

A ‘communication’ means making materials available online or electronically transmitting copyright materials (like uploading to a password protected digital teaching environment (DTE) for student access. It also includes emailing and streaming material.

What activities can I do in my class under s 28?

Some examples include:

  • reading a story, poem, news article, journal, handbook or other literary work
  • playing:
    • television programs from free to air and pay television
    • radio programs from free to air radio and digital radio stations
    • television programs from streaming services (eg Netflix Stan or Disney Plus)
    • a film in any format (eg a DVD or a film from AppleTV, Google Play, etc)
    • purchased material in any format (eg a film, audiobook, television program or series)
    • online television programs from catch up television (eg ABC iView, SBS on Demand, 7plus)
    • sound recordings in any format (eg CD, DVD, cassettes, digital music from Apple Music, Google Play)
  • staging a performance of a play
  • singing a song
  • playing a musical score using a musical instrument
  • displaying content from a live website on an interactive whiteboard.

When can I upload materials to my DTE to show my class?

Teachers may want to upload materials to the DTE in order to play or show them in class. This process will also involve making an ‘interim copy’.

You may be able to rely on one of the educational use provisions in the Copyright Act to make that interim copy, as long as:

  • it is only made to facilitate the classroom performance and/or communication of that content
  • you remove access by archiving or deleting the materials at the end of the lesson.

For example, to play a film to your class you may need to make a copy in order to upload the film to your school’s DTE (in reliance on the flexible dealing exception). Playing the film from your DTE to your class is permitted under s 28.

As soon as the lesson is over, you must remove access by archiving the film or deleting the film from wherever you’ve uploaded it to.

What can’t I do under s 28?

You will not be able to make some uses of copyright material, such as communicating or performing a work, such as a poem, or playing a film or sound recording:

  • to the parents of students
  • for a fundraising activity
  • at a school excursion or camp where there is no teaching involved
  • for non-teaching purposes in the school (eg showing a film at lunch on a rainy day with no teaching involved, playing music at school concerts, dances or formals, sports days, fairs, etc).

While section 28 will not apply to teachers and students performing music for non-teaching activities, schools may be able to perform music outside the classroom under the Schools Music Licence.