Copyright laws in early education settings

Published on Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Last updated on Thursday, 13 May 2021

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Have you ever played Spotify or the radio to create a relaxing environment while the children in your service nap, or to rev them up for a dance session? Have you ever photocopied pages in a book to use as part of a learning experience?

Playing and displaying published works of art are great ways to engage and entertain the children in your care, but did you know that any service using the collection from OneMusic Australia (millions and millions of the world’s popular music works, books and art you know and love) will likely need a Childcare and Early Learning Services licence to use these materials?

Why should I get a licence?

Copyright laws, including the Australian Copyright Act (1968), protect the rights of creators and those who invest in them, to make sure that they are fairly paid for the use of their work.

If you do not have a licence to use their work in your business, you will be in infringement of the Copyright Act. It's important to remember that the law grants creators of original works – like literary, dramatic, artistic or musical works – a bundle of rights.

These rights are granted automatically and don't need to be registered for protection. They are exclusive rights given to the creators; which means that if anyone else wants to use those works for any of the below reasons, they must have permission from those creators first.

The Childcare and Early Learning Service licence – where you are using works in your service from OneMusic’s collection – covers:

  • Background music - played for the benefit of both the children and the staff at your centre
  • Performing live - for example, if you’re singing songs from OneMusic’s collection with the kids
  • Music in the workplace generally - this includes music played in the staff room 
  • Hold music for the telephone
  • Making audio-visual recordings of performances, and sending them out by email or intranet
  • Photocopying books and art - for example to display illustrations or passages from books around the classroom.

Having the appropriate licence shows that your service respects the rights of artists and creators, supporting them while you use the work that they create to entertain, inspire or calm the children in your care.

Sonos’ Music Makes it Home study showed that having music playing out loud in a home made people “12 per cent less jittery, 24 per cent less irritable, and 25 per cent more inspired”. Playing music out loud at your service and having passages and illustrations from published books displayed around your classrooms, will no doubt offer the same benefits to your kids.

The best way to show your appreciation for the effect these works have on the children and staff at your centre is to support the creators with appropriate licensing. 

How do I get a licence?

You can purchase a licence online through OneMusic Australia. Services covered by this licence scheme include daycare centres, family daycare, preschools, kindergartens and after-hours care centres that use music, books and other artworks to entertain and engage the children in their care. 

How much does it cost?

Fees are based on how many licensed places (the number of children you are licensed to have at the premises on any given day by your Early Childhood Education Directorate in your State/Territory. This is not the number of children currently enrolled). Rates start at just over $2 a child per year.

Where does the money go?

Once operational and administrative costs are covered, the fees collected for these licences are given back to the creators whose work is represented by OneMusic Australia, which includes artists like Justine Clarke. This is how musicians, writers, illustrators and more are paid fairly for the use of their work.

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