Reducing barriers in teaching – why we need a government-funded copyright licence

(Last Updated On: April 7, 2022)

Access to all audio visual, music and print resources to enhance your teaching should be available to all educators and all schools, without the worry of the consequences of breaching copyright. Currently they’re not but you can help to put that right, writes Martin Drew.

Offering free access for every teacher to the ETV subscription catalogue in Term 4 last year was a huge success. However, as simple and straightforward as it may have seemed, this was only made possible by the support of Screenrights, who provided copyright licences to enable us to do it – and legally allowed all schools to take up the offer.

And that started us thinking.

What if copyright licensing was centrally funded by the Government, thus permanently enabling teachers to use any material without the fear of the consequences of copyright infringement? We think that should be the case and have set up the ‘School Copyright Licensing Initiative’ and are asking for your support to help us convince the Government to take this step.

Protected from prosecution

Elsewhere, it’s already been successfully done. In Australia and the United Kingdom, for example, teachers don’t have this problem and when going about their daily teaching are fully protected from any threat of copyright prosecution. Licences are purchased for schools by their respective governments, making it easy and cost effective to access a broad array of curated educational content from online resource centres (similar to ETV) that deliver licensed material to schools.

Here in New Zealand, however, the situation is very different. Copyright licences are currently purchased by each individual school on a voluntary basis, as directed by their Board of Trustees. This is a legacy environment that was created under the 1980s ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ policy which, especially in an anywhere, anytime post-Covid learning environment, is demonstrably no longer fit for purpose.

While it’s true to say that no school has so far been prosecuted for copyright infringement, the potential consequences if it were to happen are significant.

According to TKI ( “The person (student, teacher or other employee) doing the restricted act is personally liable for copyright infringement, but in some circumstances their activity may also give rise to civil and criminal liability for the school’s principal and the supervising Board of Trustees.”

The Ministry of Education’s purpose is to shape an education system that delivers equitable and excellent outcomes. Indeed, a strong theme from the Prime Minister is that we need to maintain momentum to close the digital divide and address equity issues in education.

Surely, equal and equitable access to copyright licences is a key step towards the stronger, fairer education system that is key to Labour Government policy?

That’s why we need a centrally-funded copyright licence. That’s why we’ve set up the ‘School Copyright Licensing Initiative’. And that’s why we need your help. We’ve set up a petition and urge you to join us in calling on the Government to provide equity by funding copyright licensing for all schools. Add your voice to this message at

Martin Drew is General Manager of ETV.

Find out more about ETV at

INTERFACE February 2022

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