Diversity Enriches The World

The variety of content that our members create makes the world more interesting -
and education a lot more engaging and compelling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Screenrights is happy to advise on its operations and the services it offers. If your query is not addressed here, please contact us.

If your query concerns general matters of copyright law, we are not able to offer legal advice. In many cases, advice on general copyright matters can be obtained from the Australian Copyright Council.

Using television and radio with a Screenrights licence

General Copyright Information

  • Showing a film (eg playing a video or DVD) outside your immediate family and private home is, in copyright terms, a performance in public. This requires the permission of the copyright owners. Examples of this sort of use include:

         film societies

         fundraising film nights

         on bus or coaches

         entertaining the kids at school or in a library on a rainy day.

    In industry terms this is called a "non-theatric exhibition", and there are two companies from which can rent you a copy of a film with the permission to perform it in public included: Roadshow Film Distributors, Tel, 02 9552 8600; and Amalgamated Movies Tel, 07 4787 1086 (Eastern states) or 08 9727 1950 (SA, WA, NT). The two companies have different catalogues of films. So if one company doesn't have the movie you want, then the other may.

  • The Australian Copyright Council publishes a very useful guide to copyright for teachers that explains what you can and can't do under Australia's Copyright laws. Simply contact the Australian Copyright Council.

Getting the most out of television

Screenrights and the Australian Copyright Act

  • Schools, universities and TAFE institutes, along with some other training organisations, are "educational institutions" for the purposes of the Copyright Act. This does not include public libraries.

  • Screenrights is a non-profit organisation appointed by the Australian Government to administer provisions in the Australian Copyright Act allowing educational institutions to copy from radio and television and to communicate those copies, provided they pay a fee.

    Screenrights' role is to enter into agreements with participating institutions, monitor their use of material and collect and distribute fees to the rightsholders in the programs that are identified as having been copied or communicated. This is done on a non-profit basis, with Screenrights deducting only its administrative overheads from the money it collects.

    Because this appointment has been made by the Government, Screenrights must put its annual accounts before each House of Parliament and comply with other guidelines issued by the Attorney-General's Department. Screenrights also subscribes to a voluntary Code of Conduct for Copyright Collecting Societies and its performance in relation to the Code is assessed on an annual basis by the Code Reviewer.

    Screenrights also provides other services to rightsholders in film and television and to the people who want to use their work. We have established a similar educational copying service in New Zealand and a service for rightsholders wanting to collect overseas royalties. We have also established a copying service for Australian government departments similar to the educational copying service, and we administer provisions in the Australian Copyright Act that ensure rightsholders are paid when free to air broadcasts of their work are retransmitted by services such as pay television.

Getting a Screenrights licence

  • Institutions that do not have a Screenrights licence and copy from television or radio may infringe copyright, unless they obtain prior permission from all the relevant rightsholders in the program. The practical impossibility of doing this led to the educational copying provisions being established in the first place.

  • If you do not have a licence and would like to apply for one, you can download the forms here, or please contact us.

  • This depends on how your copying and communication practices are monitored. Institutions that choose not to keep records of everything they copy, but elect to participate in a survey, pay an annual fee per student. As the administrative burden of sampling is considerably less than full record keeping, almost all institutions choose this option.

    Institutions that keep records of every copy they make, pay a fee for each minute copied. This per minute fee will vary according to the type of program that is copied (programs that are likely to be kept as an ongoing resource cost more per minute than those that are more ephemeral in nature).

    For further information about the cost of obtaining a Screenrights licence, please contact us.

  • All universities and government and Catholic schools, as well as many independent schools, have a Screenrights licence. Some TAFEs are also licensed by Screenrights. Vocational Education Training providers, ELICOS Colleges and other training institutions can also get a licence from Screenrights and make the most of television as a teaching resource. If you are not sure if your institution has a Screenrights licence, please contact us.

    Screenrights also licenses educational institutions to communicate copies they make (for example, by making copies available online to students).

Monitoring your copying

  • One of Screenrights' roles is to monitor what is being copied. This is necessary for us to work out who should be paid. Under the Copyright Act, educational institutions can either keep full records of everything they copy and forward these records to us on a quarterly basis, or they can elect to participate in a sample. This means that they only need to keep records for a brief period if they are selected to be surveyed.
    All relevant staff are given full training prior to the commencement of the survey period and the survey results are extrapolated by an independent authority to give an accurate picture of copying practices across a sector. Most institutions elect to participate in the sample as the administrative burden is considerably less than keeping records all the time.
    Monitoring copying therefore involves a certain amount of filling in forms. Electing to participate in the sample process greatly reduces the number of forms that you have to complete.

Payment and where the funds go

  • Screenrights determines the total amount collected in a financial year and then deducts its operating expenses for that year from this amount. Once these expenses have been deducted, an allocation of 0.25% of the total distributable amount is made to a fund known as the IBNR Fund. This fund is used to meet "claims incurred but not reported". A further deduction is then made to an Artistic Works fund (1.9% for Australian educational royalties) to pay rightsholders in artistic works.
    After these deductions have been made, all copied programs are categorised as either ephemeral in nature (that is, programs that are not likely to be kept as an ongoing resource, such as news and magazine style current affairs programs) or as "other". This category affects the dollar value allocated to each minute copied, with ephemeral programs receiving less than other programs. Screenrights can then determine the total amount that should be allocated to each title identified as having been copied.
    The next task is to determine how much should be allocated to each copyright in a copied title. Because each film and television program contains a number of copyrights, the total amount allocated to a title must be divided among the copyright owners. This is done according to a scheme of allocation determined by the Screenrights Board. For Australian educational copying royalties, the allocation is as follows:

    to the copyright in the film: 68.5%
    to the copyright in the literary and dramatic work: 22.1%
    to the copyright in the sound recordings of musical works: 2.0%
    to the copyright in the musical works: 7.4%

    The Australian educational service also allows for the communication of copied titles, provided an additional fee is paid. Programs that are identified as having been communicated are also allocated royalties. The allocation is split between each of the copyright owners in the program in the same manner as copying royalties.
    Screenrights must identify the people who own or control each of these relevant copyrights from its extensive database and from various other sources, allowing it to distribute the royalties it has collected to these rightsholders.

  • The money that Screenrights collects from educational institutions is paid out to the rightsholders in the programs that are identified as having been copied, after the deduction of Screenrights' administrative overheads only.

  • Copyright law ensures that the people who create certain material (such as films, books, music and artwork) are paid for the use of their work. The value in a creative work is usually not in the actual product (such as the film) but in all the uses that can be made of this product. When a film is sold to television, rightsholders are paid for the television broadcast only. Further uses of the program such as making copies to keep in a library of resources or to show to students, are not built into this original fee.
    In recognition of the fact that it was important to allow for educational use of television and radio while still ensuring that rightsholders are paid, the educational copying provisions were inserted into the Copyright Act in 1990 and Screenrights was established. The money paid for copying acts as an important incentive for people to continue making programs of value to the educational market.