Using TV and film in the classroom

2 mins read
Jessica Smith

National Copyright Unit (NCU)

The Ministers’ Copyright Advisory Group (CAG), through the NCU, is responsible for copyright policy and administration for the Australian school and TAFE sectors. This involves:

  • Managing the obligations under the educational copyright licences
  • Advocating for better copyright laws on the School and TAFE sector’s behalf
  • Educating the School and TAFE sector regarding their copyright responsibilities

The NCU manages the Smartcopying website, which is the official guide to copyright issues for Australian Schools and TAFE sector.

Using TV and Film in the Classroom

Teachers are able to use audio-visual content (eg TV broadcasts, film), without obtaining permission due to the:

  • Statutory Broadcast Licence; and
  • Free Use Exceptions in the Copyright Act: section 28 and section 200AB.

Statutory Broadcast Licence

Teachers are able to make copies of radio and television programs for use in classrooms and for other educational purposes under a special licence in the Copyright Act known as the Statutory Broadcast Licence.

The Statutory Broadcast Licence covers:

  • TV broadcasts from free-to-air television (ABC, SBS, Channels 7, 9, 10, Gem, etc.);
  • Radio broadcasts from free-to-air radio (AM, FM, Digital);
  • Pay TV (e.g. Foxtel); and
  • Online TV/radio programs from a free-to-air broadcaster’s website including podcasts and catch up TV provided it has been broadcast by the free-to-air broadcaster.

The licence covers any program broadcast on television or radio, including: feature films; short films; documentaries; news and current events; television series; game shows; reality TV; quiz shows; cartoons; advertisements; and music video clips.

The Statutory Broadcast Licence does not cover:

  • Content created by Pay TV/Radio Broadcasters for the Internet (eg webseries);
  • Television programs from streaming services (e.g. Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime);
  • Purchased television programs from iTunes, Google Play, online or retail stores (e.g. ABC Stores, Dymocks) in any format (e.g. Mp4, Blu-ray, DVD or VHS);
  • Online videos (e.g. from YouTube, Vimeo); or
  • Online Games (e.g. from

For additional information, please see the Smartcopying website.

Section 28

Teachers and students can play films and television programs in class, where it is:

  • in the course of education and is not for profit; and
  • the people in the audience or class are giving or receiving instruction, or are directly connected with the place where instruction is given.

A class includes virtual classes and distance education students.

For additional information, please see the Smartcopying website.

Section 200AB

If you want to use films and TV content in a way not permitted by the statutory broadcast licence or section 28, you may be able to rely on the “flexible dealing” exception in s200AB.

The “flexible dealing” exception permits schools to make limited use of copyright material for free, for educational instruction, if the use satisfies a number of criteria. You must assess your proposed use against those criteria on a case-by-case basis.

For additional information on section 200AB, please see the Smartcopying website.

For additional information, please contact me at: 0418 573 113 or