Australia's National Copyright Unit (NCU), a group that provides copyright advice to educators, says that schools are needlessly paying copyright royalty for content that are free for use.
Schools in Australia spend up to $56 million per year on copyright payments, and up to 15% of that may be for content that's already freely available on the Internet, according to the National Copyright Unit.
Under current copyright laws, schools have to pay a copyright fee every time a teacher saves or prints material from the Internet, even if it's simply instructions for the student to save or print the material at home. "Australian schools pay copyright fees every time a teacher prints from the internet, saves a document from a website or asks a student to print a webpage for a homework assignment," said Delia Browne, NCU's national copyright director.
And as schools start using the Internet more, the copyright costs, including the needless portions, are set to increase.
There are also issues relating to digital versions of text books, with some publishers only providing digital copies with hard copy purchases, and preventing re-distribution of digital copies along with second hand sales of the hard copies.
"It's crazy; we're in the midst of this digital revolution and we've got publishers … failing to evolve and keep up with the times," says Sue Boudakin, co-president of North Sydney's Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College's parents association.
The NCU will make its recommendation to the Australian Law Reform Commission, which is currently holding an inquiry into the digital economy and how copyright relates to it.