Government Licences

We have agreements with the Commonwealth and each State and Territory government that allow their staff to copy and internally share content for government purposes.

These agreements set out arrangements for the application of provisions in the Copyright Act that allow governments to copy and share copyright content without the permissions usually required, provided there is fair compensation to the content creators. These provisions are often referred to as the government statutory licence (or, sometimes, section 183). Copyright Agency is appointed by the Copyright Tribunal to manage the statutory licence for government copies of text and images (see here). We are also authorised by our members to license the communication of their works by government departments and agencies (for example, emailing and making available from an intranet).

Which departments and agencies are covered?

Click link for relevant government to see which departments and agencies are covered by the agreements.

What activities do the agreements allow?

Broadly, the agreements allow any copying or sharing of any text or images for government purposes, within the departments and agencies covered by the agreements. The agreements do not cover external communication, such as posting to a website: these activities will usually require notifying the rightsholders, who may negotiate payment or other conditions.

What about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags?

These may be copied and shared under the agreements, within departments and agencies. We make distribution payments to the rightsholder for each flag. For external publication or communication, you will usually need to notify the rightsholders, who are entitled to seek payment. There is more information about these flags on the Prime Minister and Cabinet website here.

On 3 September 2020, the government announced a Parliamentary inquiry into the copyright and licensing arrangements for the flag, to report by 13 October: see here.

What isn’t covered?

There are separate arrangements for:

  • copying and sharing for educational purposes: see here
  • royalties for sales of survey plans by state governments: see here
  • local government: see here

What about content that isn’t text or images?

Governments have agreements with APRA AMCOS relating to music, and Screenrights relating to broadcast content.

How are fees paid by governments distributed to rightsholders?

We make an annual distribution of combined licence fees from the Commonwealth, States and Territories. We have limited data about actual usage in governments, so our distributions are mostly based on data about content that is available for use under the licence. We publish information sheets about distributions, which are linked from our distribution schedule. You can see the information sheet for the 2020 distribution here, and the 2019 distribution here.

More information

Contact our Government Licensing department on 1800 066 844 (toll free within Australia) or +61 2 9394 7600 or email If your agency is not currently covered, we can put you in touch with the relevant government representative.

See also the Australian Copyright Council’s information sheet for governments here, and guide here (print) and here (eBook).

8 September 2020

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