Copyright licences for state schools in England

Guidance on copyright licences and how copyright affects schools.

Applies to England

The Department for Education (DfE) buys copyright licences for all state-funded primary and secondary schools in England – covering schools for almost all their copyright requirements.

Purchasing these licences directly means that DfE can save schools money and the administrative time involved in applying for many different licences.

The licences mean you can copy, re-use and share content from a wide range of sources within your school for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Your school leadership (head and chair of governors) needs to make sure that:

  • all intended activities are covered adequately by the licences
  • all staff follow the terms and conditions

For more information on what content you can use, and how to gain other permissions, contact the relevant organisation from the following list.

The copyright licences cover a range of content from printed materials to radio and TV broadcasts:

If you require a copy of any of these licences, or further information about them, you should contact the relevant copyright management organisation (or, where applicable, its agent) listed above.

We encourage schools to make the best use of these licences. For example, the Educational Recording Agency offers links to broadcast resources and provides a collection of case studies showing how teachers use television and radio effectively in their lessons.

The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society licence allows schools to make recordings of student performances and sell copies to generate income.

The licences don’t cover:

  • images on websites, unless the website is covered by the CLA or NLA Media Access – you can check using CLA’s Check Permissions tool
  • content accessed directly from YouTube
  • some extra-curricular activities, for example showing films to a paying audience; please contact the relevant organisation

The CLA’s Check Permissions tool enables you to check whether you can copy from a particular publication under the terms of the CLA and NLA Media Access licences. (Remember that images copied under these licences are covered for internal distribution within the school, but not for sharing on a public facing website.) It also helps you to check whether you can copy from a particular publication under the terms of the Schools Printed Music Licence.

You can also use the CLA’s Education Platform if your school is covered by the CLA Education Licence. The platform provides access to digital versions of books, allowing you to copy and share a portion of each book you or your school owns.

Teachers can access free resources by using Every Copy Counts, the data collection programme for the SPML. Resources available include approaches to composing and songwriting, webinars on composers and guides to careers in the music publishing industry. These are available through the resource section of the PMLL portal, in return for submitting information on the works used under the licence.

Educational establishments covered by the DfE scheme:

  • local-authority-maintained schools (including maintained nurseries)
  • academies
  • free schools
  • special schools (these are schools for children with special educational needs or disabilities)
  • non-maintained special schools
  • pupil referral units (these provide education for children who can’t attend a mainstream school)

Educational establishments not covered by the DfE scheme:

  • sixth-form colleges
  • local-authority-maintained schools that provide only for 16- to 19-year-olds
  • academies that provide only for 16- to 19-year-olds
  • independent fee-paying schools

Independent fee-paying schools can obtain information from the Independent Association of Prep Schools or the Centre for Education and Finance Management.

Published 8 April 2014
Last updated 13 April 2022 + show all updates
  1. Added information about the data collection programme Every Copy Counts.

  2. Update to Printed Music Licencing Ltd. The license is now administered by the Centre for Education and Finance Management (CEFM).

  3. Added info and a link for the Copyright Licensing Agency's education platform.

  4. Updated to remove a link to the Schools and Copyright website.

  5. Updated page to make benefits of the central licencing scheme clearer, and give more detail about what schools can do with their copyright licences.

  6. Added local-authority-maintained schools that provide only for 16- to 19-year-olds to the list of schools that licences don't cover.

  7. Updated information on schools not covered by DfE licences and examples of when schools need to buy additional licences.

  8. Added more licences to the list of copyright licences DfE provides for schools.

  9. First published.