Creative Commons in Schools

What is Creative Commons in Schools?

CC Pukeko from Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ on Vimeo.

Creative Commons in Schools refers to the growing movement for Creative Commons policies in the state education system. With over 53,000 teachers and over 2,500 schools, the potential for New Zealand educators to save time and energy by collaborating online is enormous.

By adopting a Creative Commons policy, schools enable their teachers to use Creative Commons licences to legally share and collaborate with other New Zealand teachers. The free licences provided by Creative Commons enable New Zealand teachers to legally share their copyright resources by giving a range of permissions in advance. To learn more about our licences, check out our video on the homepage.

Copyright and Teaching Resources

New Zealand teachers don’t, as employees, hold first ownership of copyright to resources they create in the course of their employment. The 1994 Copyright Act grants first ownership to employers, which in the case of New Zealand schools is the Board of Trustees (BoT). This means that when teachers share resources that they have produced in the course of their employment, they are legally infringing the copyright held by the BoT.

This can cause a great deal of uncertainty for teachers wishing to share and collaborate with teachers at other schools. It can also cause problems when teachers move between schools and wish to take their resources with them.

A Creative Commons Policy

A Creative Commons policy gives teachers advance permission to disseminate their resources online for sharing and reuse. The policy also ensures that both the school and the teacher — as well as teachers from around the country and around the world — can continue to use and adapt resources produced by New Zealand teachers in the course of their employment.

As more teaching and learning is done online, these issues around intellectual property are becoming much harder to ignore. A Creative Commons policy is a good way to clarify your school’s position on intellectual property — including first ownership of copyright to teaching resources — which still encouraging sharing and collaboration, which is a core part of the vision of many New Zealand schools.

Creative Commons have developed an annotated template policy for schools to use, which can be accessed and downloaded here.

The New Zealand Government’s Support for Creative Commons Policies

In December 2014,  version 2 of the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL), which had been approved by Cabinet in July 2010, was released. NZGOAL advocates the use of Creative Commons licensing for all non-private copyright data and content produced by State Services agencies — including schools. It recommends the use of the CC 4.0 International licences, in preference to the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand licences (no retrospective licensing required).

Under NZGOAL, Boards of Trustees are encouraged to “take NZGOAL into account when releasing copyright material and non-copyright material to the public for re-use.”

Thousands of government copyright works, including datasets, reports, research, cultural works and teaching materials have already been released under a Creative Commons licence. Check our our Government section for more information, or else head to to read more about NZGOAL. Look in particular at the NZGOAL Guide for Agencies and the NZGOAL Guide for Users.

How Do I Pass a Creative Commons Policy at My School?

While the process for every school is likely to be different, there are a few steps all schools will need to take. It’s also worth noting that passing the policy is only the first step.

  1. Learn as much as you can about Creative Commons licensing. A good way to do this is to make yourself familiar with the content on this website.
  2. Start a conversation about copyright and Creative Commons with teachers and school leaders.
  3. Decide what resources you or your school leadership team will need to bring the case to the Board of Trustees (BoT). You can do this by familiarising yourself with the resources on this page, and if there’s anything else you need, please get in touch.
  4. Plan a professional development session with staff. This can happen before or after you bring your policy to the BoT. Note that many teachers are going to be surprised to learn that they don’t own copyright to their resources. We recommend framing the Creative Commons policy as a solution to this problem.
  5. Bring your policy to the BoT. We recommend linking the policy to the school’s vision, while also pointing out the need to address IP issues as teachers increasingly participate in online sharing portals like the Network for Learning, the VLN and Wikieducator.
  6. Develop a plan with school leaders to implement the policy.

Creative Commons in Schools Case Studies

  • Albany Senior High School

Who Has a Creative Commons Policy

We’ve developed an incomplete list of schools with Creative Commons policies. Please let us know if you want your school added to the list.


For a range of Creative Commons resources, including template policies, papers, videos, posters and more, visit our resources homepage.

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