Australia’s students hold the future in their hands. Graduating into a modern, mobile, globally-competitive world, it is no longer enough to be proficient in the “three Rs”. Today’s graduates need to be creative, innovative team players with a high level of digital proficiency.

Australia’s blackboard era copyright laws are a barrier to this, discouraging use of new technologies and penalising collaboration outside of school walls.

Did you know?
The Productivity Commission identified education and libraries as the biggest beneficiaries from a fair use exception.

Schools, TAFES and universities need a flexible copyright exception that can keep pace with educational needs. Our students need fair use.

If we don’t update our copyright laws:

  • Schools will continue to pay more for displaying text on an interactive whiteboard than a blackboard;
  • Universities will remain at a competitive disadvantage when offering MOOCs;
  • Graduate students will continue to have to remove quotes before their theses are uploaded by the university;
  • Researchers will be denied access to critical methods such as text and data mining;
  • Australian taxpayers will continue to pay millions of dollars per year for the use in our education system of freely available internet materials and works where the copyright owner is unknown or untraceable.

Introducing fair use would make Australia’s copyright law adaptable, practical, straightforward and most of all FAIR. Fair uses of copyright material would mean academics could use small pieces of third party material in conference papers and that schools would no longer pay to print off competition entry forms.

“Australian schools are not asking for a free ride – simply a fair ride.”

Copyright Advisory Group (Schools) to the Council of Australian Governments’ Education Council

Schools would continue to pay the more than $700 million they currently spend each year purchasing educational content for students, and an additional tens of millions of dollars licensing uses like copying material into coursepacks. But they want to put the estimated $15 million currently spent on uses that no one has ever asked or expected to be paid for towards teaching students.

Did you know?
In the last few years schools have paid to print out online TV guides, take screenshots of webpages in computing lessons and request children to print a map from Google maps for homework.

Global knowledge resources such as Wikipedia, which are hosted overseas, already rely on fair use to host information. Australians and Australian knowledge resources deserve the same rights here.

“More than 20 years after the Copyright Law Review Committee recommended an open-ended flexible exception, it is now well past the time to move beyond the “should we/shouldn’t we” debate to begin the important discussion about exactly how a flexible fair use exception should be introduced into Australian copyright law.”

Universities Australia

We need to ask the government to introduce fair use now.

Want to know more?
Delia Browne, the National Copyright Director of the Australian National Copyright Unit has written on Why Australian Schools Need Fair Use.
The Smartcopying copyright website for schools and TAFE has a section devoted to fair use and why it would be good for Australian educators.