About Firefly Education

Copyright – What do I need to know?


What is copyright?

When an author writes a book, its content is protected by copyright. Copyright laws stop other people from copying or sharing the content of that book without the author’s permission.

Of course, copyright doesn’t just apply to books. It applies to all original material, such as magazines, online programs, videos, music – and this webpage!

The laws around copyright are strict: fines, penalties and criminal charges apply if copyright is infringed.

Why are copyright laws so strict?

Authors, artists, composers – and publishers like Firefly – make a living from the sale of their work.

Copyright laws protect the copyright holder so they can continue to create original Australian material for us all to enjoy.

Do schools have to obey copyright laws?

Yes, all educational institutions must obey copyright laws.

However, there’s some good news!

Most schools have a statutory licence that allows them to ‘use text, images and notated (print) music in ways that would otherwise require a copyright clearance’.1

Does my school have a statutory licence?

All state schools have a statutory licence automatically.

If you work at an independent school, make sure you are a licensed educational institution.

If you don’t have a licence, find out if you’re eligible. Without it, you are severely restricted as to what you can copy. To find out more, email educationlicences@copyright.com.au.

Can I photocopy material to use in my classroom?

Yes – up to a point!

If your school has a statutory licence, you are allowed to copy ‘a reasonable portion of work’ for educational purposes. The Australian Copyright Council defines a reasonable portion as ‘10% of the number of pages OR 1 chapter’.2

That means if you have a 30-page text book, you can photocopy three pages to hand out to the students in your class.

You cannot copy an entire text book, play, novel or other work without permission from the author.

It’s important to note that the 10% rule applies to a class for a whole year. As the Australian Copyright Council explains: ‘a teacher of a history class could only copy 10% of a commercially available book for that particular class. The teacher could not, for example, copy 10% of the book one week and a different 10% of the same book another week’.3

Can I share copyright materials electronically?

Yes – up to a point!

In copyright-speak, sharing material electronically is known as ‘communicating’. According to the Australian Copyright Council, communicating includes ‘emailing text, images and music scores to students and staff’ and ‘posting text, images and music scores to an intranet for student and staff access’.4

If your school has a statutory licence, you can communicate a reasonable portion of work (10% or one chapter) to your class for educational purposes.

Can I copy online or digital content?

If you copy material from websites and digital products to share in your classroom, be aware that copyright laws apply. In most cases you can only copy or communicate only 10% of the content. In some cases, you might not even be allowed to copy that much; some websites and digital products have terms and conditions that restrict your right to copy the content. This is particularly the case when websites require a login or a paid subscription.

Can I copy Firefly products?

Firefly’s products are protected by copyright laws. To help you work out how much you can copy with a statutory licence, we’ve created a quick guide below.

Copying Firefly Products – A Quick Guide

Note: Find out more about the Terms and Conditions relating to our online products.

How can I be sure I’m following copyright laws?

If you are still not sure what you can use, copy or communicate, just ask us! Email us at info@fireflyeducation.com.au with details of how you want to use our materials and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Note: This information does not constitute legal advice.


1. Copyright Agency. ‘What Part VB Means.’http://copyright.com.au/licences-permission/educational-licences/part-vb-of-the-educational-statutory-licence/ (accessed September 12, 2016).
2. James, Fiona. Educational Institutions – Using Text and Images B143 (Sydney: Australian Copyright Council, 2012), 6
3. Ibid., 9
4. Ibid., 15