Technologies such as podcasting are not covered by exisiting blanket licences so using, for instance pre-recorded music (tracks from a CD, downloads, whatever) that are in-copyright for them could be seen to be copyright infringement. The PRS has constructed licences for community/low level broadcasting that could be applied for and used by a school, but they haven't been designed for schools so cost and process may not be appropriate for may teaching/learning or communicating with parents activities. The same could also apply to making in-copyright materials available through a school website.
The position is further complicated as it is probably the company or organsiation managing and hosting the service who should have the appropriate licences. Some education resource providers have worked this though, but if you or your school is doing it's own thing then it's you/your school who have to take care.
Licensing can apply to 'in-copyright' : music; poetry and literature; news and documentary materials; photographs; film; games; artwork; just about everything. We have tended to instance music in this section because the most likely area at issue but on-line licencing can apply to any of the above. If you use on-line services which host and publish materiasl put together by teachers and or pupils you may need to check this aspect out.
The options are:
Audio Network and the NEN's recorded music initiative - available free to most schools in the UK through their RBC or national education networks - has a simple process in place, at a realistic cost to support school projects use music from their service beyond the school and school VLE. For information about the Audio Networks and NEN recorded music service - including how to logon.
Filmclub. This one isn't on-line but it demosntartes that licencing applies to film as well as music. To enable schools to show films in clubs after school the Film Club initiative includes a special licence - the PVS or Public Video Screening licence - to enable feature and other films to be shown in schools. More on this in Collecting Societies in Section 2
PRS, The Preforming Music Society, provide a range of licence for digital uses - broadcast, online-casting, podcasting (downloads), ringtones, etc. They have a LOML - Limited Online Music Licence - with a range of charge options. This is designed for small commercial users and won't fit many school/education activities - but it may work for some. More on this topic in Collecting Societies in Section 2 - or go straight to the PRS website - you are looking for 'online and mobile licences'.
Using photographs. You may have to ask permission to specific photographs and there may be charge or the owner or agent may grant permission. These are often provided as licences and are usually quite specific - you have permsission to publish an image, for instance, on a website for a fixed period of time - but this doesn't extend to cover the use of the same image in a powerpoint or a film as well - or even on a different website.