Who receives copyright fees paid by the school sector

We provide detailed information in our annual reports (here) about how we distribute copyright fees, including from the school sector.

For the 2023 calendar year, we received most of the copyright fees from the school sector in April 2023. We allocated the fees in June 2023, and most recipients received their payments before 30 June 2023.

Amounts set aside for writers and Artists

We set aside a percentage of the copyright fees from the school sector for writers and artists respectively, primarily those who do not have arrangements with publishers for a share of Copyright Agency allocations and may not otherwise receive a payment. We combine these amounts with amounts set aside from other sources (such as universities and TAFEs), for the Annual Writers Distribution and the Annual Artists Distribution. The 2023 Annual Writers Distribution totalled $5.3m, and the 2023 Annual Artists Distribution totalled $4.8m.

Together with the copyright fees from other sources, we allocated:

  • $1.3m from the school sector to more than 3,700 artists
  • $2.6m from the school sector to more than 5,400 writers

Writers and artists also receive allocations from the ‘main’ distribution (the balance of fees), both directly from us and indirectly from their employers and publishers.

‘Main’ distribution (balance of copyright fees)

We allocated the balance of copyright fees (nearly $38m) to more than 5,500 recipients in the following sectors. Recipients include organisations that employ writers and artists, as well as freelance writers and artists who receive a share of Copyright Agency allocations to books, either directly from us, or indirectly from their publishers.

92% of the copyright fees were allocated to Australian recipients.

sector % copyright fees distributed
educational/scholarly publishing 86%
general publishing 8%
media publishing 3%
music 2%
image licensing/fine arts 1%
other <1%

Sources of information for the distribution

The distribution was based on a number of information sources:

  • provided by teachers participating in surveys of usage in samples of schools (from 2016 to 2020)
  • provided by teachers in online questionnaires in 2021 and 2022
  • recently published textbooks
  • books in school library collections

Allocations to books

Our systems and processes encourage publishers to register the shares of allocations to books that are due to freelance writers and illustrators under their publishing contracts. Writers and illustrators can also request registration of shares. Registration of shares enables us to pay the writers and artists directly.

There were about 22,000 allocations from the main distribution, totalling $13m, to recipients with registered shares for books (writers, illustrators and publishers). Of these, about 15,000 allocations totalling $6m were for writers and illustrators. The remainder (about 7,000 allocations totalling $7m) were for publishers.

There were also allocations to books, totalling about $19m, for which we did not have registered shares. We do not have information about amounts passed on by publishers to writers and illustrators from these payments.

Recipients of Copyright Agency payments also have writers and artists on staff, or are self-publishers of content that they create.

Information in diagrammatic form

You can see information set out above in diagrammatic form here.

How copyright payments support education publishing

About education publishing

Education publishing is part of Australia’s creative industries, supported by the copyright system. The societal benefits of Australian content, which includes Australian education resources for Australian students, are widely recognised. Unlike other areas of publishing, however, education publishing does not receive any government subsidies. In addition, the markets for Australian education resources for schools are small. Sometimes a resource is required for a single subject and grade level, or a single State or Territory to align with curriculum requirements. Copyright payments contribute to investment in future Australian education resources.

Many people involved in creating education resources are on staff of publishing entities. Many of them are former teachers. Nearly all education publishing projects are initiated by publishing entities, based on research and teacher feedback. In some cases, publishing entities commission freelance writers and illustrators to develop a project initiated by the publishing entity, after it is underway.

How education publishing is different

Education publishing is different to other areas of publishing in various respects. For example, the process of publishing a novel starts with an author writing a manuscript for review by a publisher. In education publishing, the process starts with a publisher evaluating the market, conceiving a project, and sourcing expert educator author teams. The writing generally occurs later at a later stage.

Range of entities involved in education publishing

The publishing entities that receive payments from Copyright Agency vary enormously. The resources that they publish include textbooks, student resources, teacher resources, worksheets, workbooks, fact sheets, lesson plans, assessment guides and assessment tasks.

The range of entities includes those that:

  • publish education resources on a range of subject areas
  • specialise in particular subject areas (like teacher associations who use publishing income to support professional services for their members)
  • specialise in a particular aspect of a subject area, like literacy or writing
  • specialise in assessment

They range in size from entities with more than 100 staff that commission content from hundreds of writers and illustrators, to small businesses with fewer than 20 staff (usually producing all material in-house) to micro-businesses of one or two people (producing all material themselves).

Some publish resources in both print and digital formats, and some publish only in digital formats. Those that publish digital only recognise that there can be pedagogical benefits of printed material for school students, and that the education statutory licence enables their resources to be printed and copied.

November 2023

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