The Copyright Act of 1976 governs the rights of reproduction, adaptation, distribution, and public performance and display. Several sections of this act have implications for videocassettes, DVDs and computer file formats.
This page is intended to share guidelines and best practices as related to copyright, face-to-face instruction, digital instruction, fair use, public performance rights, and films in the public domain.
Showing a video or DVD in a face-to-face classroom environment is covered under an exception to the public performance right §110 (1) and is lawful. This is commonly called the Face to Face Teaching Exception. But it must meet the following criteria:
For online or distance education classes, the TEACH Act allows for the use of clips and video works as long as the access is available only to students enrolled in the course, usually through a learning management system like Blackboard.
For more detailed information, see the following relevant laws and interpretations:
Why are some videos/ DVDs labeled "Home Use Only?" Vendors or publishers want to remind consumers that videos and DVDs should not be shown to the public as this is an exclusive right of the rights holder. There is an exception to the public performance rights that allows non-profit, educational institutions the right to publicly perform videos/DVDs for non-profit, educational purposes.
Can I show an entire DVD in the distance educational classroom via digital networks? The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2002 says only portions of DVDs can be screened in the distance classroom. However, fair use may apply when it is necessary to show the entire film to meet the teaching need.
Educators and students use YouTube videos for classroom or assignment purposes. Are these uses lawful? If associated with a license agreement, it may be a breach of contract (but not an infringement of copyright) to use the videos for anything but private, non-commercial use. However, the use of YouTube videos in non-profit, educational settings is wide spread and common. Rights holder have not sued educational institutional for this use, so it may be a use that rights holders tolerate or find relatively harmless since there are no market implications. Using YouTube videos outside of the educational environment, especially for commercial purposes, may require permission.
Are libraries required to purchase videos or DVDs at the higher institutional price? No. Vendors or publishers often use tiered pricing, but the library does not have to pay the higher fee unless it is getting something in return (discounted replacement copies, etc.) Many libraries by their own choice pay the institutional price for ethical reasons, recognizing that many people will use the video and a higher fee may be warranted.
What if I obtain a video or DVD via a license agreement? In general, a license agreement (even those that are non-negotiated such as a "click-on" license) override the copyright law. This means that contract terms will define what you can or cannot do with the copy.
Is it lawful to make film clip compilations for use in the classroom? Yes, this use is a fair use. Screen capture is an easy way to accomplish this. You must be a higher educational faculty member or college student studying media or film studies if you wish to circumvent technological measures employed by the rights holder (such as Content Scrambling System (CSS)). This rule may change or be expanded based on federal rules determined by the Librarian of Congress in conjunction with the Copyright Office’s triennal rulemaking on the circumvention of technological protection measures. §1201(a)(C).
-Adapted from the American Library Association's Copyright for Libraries page: https://libguides.ala.org/copyright/video
U.S. Copyright Law permits playing “reasonable and limited” portions of a copyrighted film or video during an online class session, and it permits playing entire films or videos if that qualifies as fair use. Playing a portion of a film online or the entire film online is allowable if your activity meets the requirements of the TEACH ACT. Review this TEACH ACT checklist, provided by the University of Texas, to make sure your activity falls within the legal guidelines.
Public Performance Rights (PPR) are special license terms purchased from a film distribution center for the express purpose of showing a film to a public audience. This includes showing a film for a community event or a club where members of the public are invited.
It depends on the film and the audience. If you are in a face-to-face classroom environment, you do not need PPR. For the purpose of online learning, Blackboard spaces for a class are considered a classroom. If, however, you are showing a film to a general audience like a club or members of the community, you may have to secure a PPR license--even if the purpose is educational.
Some DVDs available at the library include PPR at the time of purchase, but most of these are documentaries or independent films. Most commercial films and movies purchased through usual media vendors do not include these rights. Ask your librarian if a DVD you wish to show includes PPR.
Streaming films available through Kanopy and Academic Video Online includes PPR as long as you do not charge admission to a screening. However, films available through Swank DO require a separate PPR license to show to the public. Also, any film in the public domain can be showed to a public audience without restriction.
The following agencies are some of the common who can extend licenses for public performances: