How the licence works

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

These agreements set out arrangements for the application of provisions in the Copyright Act that allow Commonwealth, State and Territory government to copy and communicate copyright protected content internally without the permissions usually required, provided there is an agreement with Copyright Agency for 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).


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


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
  • broadcast material and music. Government have separate agreements managed by APRA AMCOS for music, and Screenrights relating to broadcast content.


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.

State governments sell survey plans under the statutory licence for governments. They pay a percentage of the proceeds to Copyright Agency to distribute to owners of copyright in survey plans.The arrangements follow from a determination by the Copyright Tribunal. State governments provide Copyright Agency with either sales data or lodgement data, which Copyright Agency uses to distribute the licence fees.

Plans in which copyright is owned by the Commonwealth or a State government are excluded from the distribution.

Share Tweet