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Your teachers' work

This section identifies copyright issues surrounding the work of teachers in your school.

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Who owns copyright in teachers' work?

The Copyright Act provides that copyright in an employee's work (created during the course of employment) is owned by the employer, unless otherwise agreed. Therefore a school owns the copyright in works created by teachers in the course of their employment, unless the employment contract states otherwise.

What rights do teachers and schools have?

Competing needs can arise when an employee wants to use any work that they have created during their employment at a different school or for purposes other than the educational purposes of the school that owns copyright in the work. For example:

  • the school may want to enforce its copyright in the work by limiting its use in restricted ways.
  • the employee may want to use the work in restricted ways, for instance, in order to publish an article in a book, or on a website.
  • a new school employing the teacher may also want to use the work in restricted ways.

For a full discussion of teachers' rights and responsibilities in relation to copyright, see the section For teachers and contractors.

Employment contract options and samples

To pre-empt potential problems, schools should consider covering copyright ownership and licensing in teachers' employment contracts. Here are two options.

Option A: Your school retains ownership of copyright in works created by teachers (in the course of employment) but also permits (licenses) the teacher to use the work in restricted ways in order to develop the work for use outside the school and with another school or employer.

Option B: The contract provides that the teacher owns copyright in the work created by the teacher (in the course of employment) but permits (licenses) your school to use the work in restricted ways.

Moral rights

No matter which option is chosen, the author retains his or her moral rights in the work. See the section Moral rights  on the What is Copyright? page.

A teacher should identify themselves as the author of the work (by attaching their name to the work). Under the Copyright Act, they should also formally assert their moral right to be identified, for example, "Mary Brown asserts her right to be identified as author of this work in accordance with the Copyright Act 1994". The school is required to continue to acknowledge the teacher as author of the work.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons provides a range of copyright licences, freely available to the public, which allow those creating intellectual property – including authors, artists, educators and scientists – to mark their work with the freedoms they want it to carry. The website can be found here.


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