End-of-Year School Events: Latest Copyright Update

The National Copyright Unit (NCU) is a specialised unit that provides copyright assistance and advice to all Australian government and non-government schools as well as TAFE institutes (excluding Victorian TAFEs) in Australia.  The NCU supports the Smartcopying website.

End-of-Year School Events
We’re getting towards the end of the school year, which, for a lot of schools, means end-of-year events such as presentation evenings, graduation ceremonies and Christmas concerts.

Schools have been dealing with unprecedented challenges during the 2020 school year due to COVID-19. Schools can make and use sound recordings under both the School Event Licence and an interim music licence, which is in effect until 31 December 2020. Information is provided separately about how schools can use music from 1 January 2021.

While some schools have returned to normal teaching arrangements, many schools will be holding their end-of-year events in a virtual format due to social distancing requirements. The NCU has recently published an information sheet that explains how schools can use music in their virtual end-of-year school events (school discos, formals, graduation ceremonies, assemblies or drama, dance or music performances).

Below are some of the key take away points from the Virtual School Events information sheet:

Recording and sharing school events with the school community

Schools can:

  • make a recording of a school event where live music (eg a live performance by a school rock band or orchestra) or recorded music (eg a backing track) is played
  • upload the recording to the school’s official social media page such as to Facebook and YouTube. Note that where recorded music is played, it is possible the post may be blocked or taken down.

Other options for schools to share their recordings include:

  • uploading it to the school website
  • emailing or messaging it to the school community
  • making a physical copy of the recording (eg on USB) and distributing it to the school community on a cost-recovery basis
  • uploading it to an app that the school uses for internal school communications, such as Schoolbag or Seesaw (but not TikTok , Snapchat or similar).

Remember to label the recording. See Virtual School Events for information on how to do this.

Live streaming school events

Many schools are opting to live stream their school events, which can be done in real time via the school website, a social media platform (eg Facebook Live, YouTube) or a video conferencing platform such as Zoom.

If the live stream contains a sound recording (eg a popular song), and this is streamed on social media, it may still be blocked or taken down.

Incorporating music into another work

Schools can incorporate recorded music into another work (eg add a soundtrack to an end-of-year video montage) and upload it to the school’s website. Note that schools are not permitted to upload the work to social media. 

Student consents

Most schools obtain student consents forms at the time of enrolment, but make sure these cover your intended uses of recordings of student performances, particularly where these are shared on social media. See Attachment A on the Virtual School Events information sheet for a consent form you can adapt.

Additional information

If you would like assistance with copyright, or information about our National Copyright Seminar Series and Copyright for Educators (C4E) course, please visit the Smartcopying website.

The purpose of this update is to provide a summary and general overview of selected copyright issues. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. If you need to know how the law applies in a particular situation, please get advice from the National Copyright Unit.