Schools and academia

Why is copyright important in education? In their day-to-day work, teachers, lecturers and other academic staff use a wide range of creative resources – such as books, newspapers, websites, TV programmes, films and music.

With such a wide variety of material being used in many different ways, it’s easy to breach copyright laws. So, it’s important that educational establishments have permission to use, copy or adapt the resources that their staff are using.

Where to go for help

Copyright organisations offer educational establishments blanket licences, which allow everybody employed by the organisation to use specific types of resource in specific ways. A broader range of uses may also be licensed direct from the copyright holder or their representative.

If you are a student at a higher education institution, your institution’s website may provide advice on copyright.

Organisations that offer blanket licences to schools

Christian Copyright Licensing International Ltd (CCLI)

CCLI is the UK’s major licensing body for the reproduction of hymns and worship songs used in acts of collective worship during assemblies. CCLI can license your school to reproduce the lyrics and music of many thousands of songs by hand, type, computer storage and photocopying or to use them on OHP acetates, in electronic storage,  projection, song sheets and so on.

The Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd (CLA)

CLA licenses organisations to copy and re-use extracts from print and digital publications on behalf of the copyright owners – authors, book publishers and visual artists. 'Copying’ means reproducing an original work by means of photocopying or making digital copies of content from magazines, books, journals, electronic and online publications. Its licences provide a cost-effective way of managing the risk associated with using and reproducing copyright materials.

The Educational Recording Agency Ltd (ERA)

The ERA Licensing Scheme provides educational establishments with a simple means of accessing and using broadcast material both in the classroom and by students at home. You need a licence if you wish to use material sourced from broadcasts (including accessing catch-up TV services of the UK public service broadcasters) for teaching resources. As a not for profit organisation, ERA only covers its administration costs from the money collected from licensing. It pays everything else to its Members. This ensures that Rightsholders are being paid fairly for the work they have created.

MPLC Umbrella Licence®

This licence gives schools complete access to premium entertainment content from the majority of Independent, family friendly, film studios/TV series DVD. The licence allows unlimited showings, in any legal home entertainment format, for one low annual fee. MPLC also provides single title licensing for film clubs.

NLA media access

NLA media access is owned by the UK’s eight national newspapers and licenses the copying of content from over 1,400 national and regional titles. It provides educational licences, which cover frequent copying from print and web, alongside a free print copying licence for primary and secondary schools, and free access to an online database of articles from print newspapers.

Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) – the Centre for Education and Finance Management (CEFM)

PPL licenses recorded music played in public and broadcast on TV, radio and the internet on behalf of its record company and performer members. A PPL licence is required for any public performance of recorded music for extra curricular purposes within schools, such as school discos, keep fit classes, music on hold etc. A licence can be obtained from CEFM. 

PRS for Music – CEFM

A PRS for Music licence is required for any public performance of music for extra curricular purposes within schools. A licence for schools can be obtained from PRS for Music’s agent, CEFM. Some commercial uses of music may need to be licensed directly by PRS for Music or by its members.

The Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL)

PVSL was created by Filmbank, who represent all major Hollywood plus independent and Bollywood studios. Schools holding the PVSL are able to show films for entertainment purposes during and out of school hours, including in after-school and film clubs. Fundraising licences in the special early window before DVD release are also available. No add-on licence is required for the screening of Hollywood, independent and Bollywood films, within Filmbank’s repertoire.

If a blanket licence doesn't cover you for what you want to do, there are a number of commercial organisations offering licences to educational establishments.

Find out More

  • Copyright and schools website
  • Copyright and the curriculum
  • Copyright law and higher education
  • Copyright practice and Higher Education (pdf)
  • Educational licences for works of art
  • NEN – Copy rights and wrongs