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Copyright Basics: Video & Audio

Copyright basics at Centralia College

Video and audio in the classroom and on campus

Video/Audio in a face-to-face classroom setting

In-class uses of audio and video in face-to-face classes are covered by the Classroom Use Exception. Instructors (and students) can, without limitation, display and perform things in face-to-face teaching in a classroom setting at a non-profit institution. The only real restriction is that the video or audio you are performing or displaying must be a legally obtained copy.

Examples:

  • Singing a song that all the students already know
  • Playing or singing from sheet music 
  • Watching a video (in whole or in part) from a DVD or VHS tape
  • Listening to music from a CD, tape, or record

The classroom use exception DOES NOT apply to online classrooms (meaning online, hybrid, and web-enhanced classes). 

Remember: the classroom exception applies only to displaying and performing, not to copying and distributing.

Video/Audio in online, hybrid, and web-enhanced classes

The TEACH Act amendment to the Copyright Act, codified at § 110(2), permits the performance of a reasonable and limited portion of films in an online classroom. Under the TEACH Act, there is the express limitation on quantity, and an entire film will rarely constitute a reasonable and limited portion. Instructors may also rely upon fair use for showing films in an online course, although showing an entire film online also may not constitute fair use. Finally, the DMCA prohibits the circumvention of technological prevention measures (TPM) on DVDs and other media for the purpose of copying and distributing their content. Therefore, digitizing and streaming an entire DVD is not permissible unless an express exemption permits this. Currently, there is an exemption permitting faculty to circumvent TPM only to make clips of films for use in teaching and research.

Faculty can help in the fair use evaluation of their request by doing/considering the following:

1. Complete a fair use evaluation of your request using the tool: Exceptions for Instructors in Copyright Law. Keep a record of your results and discuss your list with the copyright officer or librarian. Performing a fair use evaluation on your own benefits you because it shows you've given your use serious thought and consideration. 

2. Contact a librarian about finding streaming versions of the particular film(s). These can be difficult to find and librarians are here to help you.

3. Put DVD copies on library reserve.

4. Have students purchase their own online access to the film via Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc. While this is not the ideal approach, in some cases it may be appropriate.

5. Select reasonable amounts of excerpts of a film to digitize. While there is no set, concrete number for the amount you can copy, 10% of the entire film is a safe target to use.

VHS cassetteThe Classroom Use Exception does not cover or permit any kind of copying. Any digitizing of video and audio for the purposes of instruction would need to be vetted first by the Library's copyright officer. If fair use applies to the need at hand, media support will then digitize the appropriate amount of media for that specific circumstance. However, approval for this action must first be given by the copyright officer. Contact the Library's copyright officer with your questions.

Fair use provides flexibility with copyright laws. However, it, too, has its limits. While it may be likely that fair use would cover many cases of copying, it may also be the case that copying the entire video and audio for educational purposes would not qualify as a fair use (even if you are providing access to it for a limited number of students through Canvas). In some cases, faculty may need to seek permission from the copyright holder to digitize and use the entire source. The copyright officer will perform a fair use evaluation in each circumstance and determine what is and is not appropriate to digitize for use in instruction.

Faculty can help in the fair use evaluation of their request by doing/considering the following:

1. Complete a fair use evaluation of your request using the tool: Exceptions for Instructors in Copyright Law. Keep a record of your results and discuss your list with the copyright officer or librarian. Performing a fair use evaluation on your own benefits you because it shows you've given your use serious thought and consideration. 

2. Contact a librarian about finding streaming versions of the particular film(s). These can be difficult to find and librarians are here to help you.

3. Put DVD copies on library reserve.

4. Have students purchase their own online access to the film via Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc. While this is not the ideal approach, in some cases it may be appropriate.

5. Select reasonable amounts of excerpts of a film to digitize. While there is no set, concrete number for the amount you can copy, 10% of the entire film is a safe target to use.


Image source:  "Visual of the top view of a VHS cassette" by GroinkWikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

When showing films or playing audio outside of the class, in most cases as part of an event or club meeting, you need permission to show this work. This permission comes in the form of public performance rights.

Some library films (both DVDs and streaming) come with public performance rights; some do not. Most, if not all, films that an individual purchases do not come with public performance rights. These must be purchased additionally. Ask a faculty librarian for help in determining if a specific film has public performance rights.

The most common scenarios on campuses that require public performance rights include:

  • Film showings at student club events
  • Film series, such as film festivals
  • The playing of copyrighted music at sporting events
 

FAQs for public performance rights:

Our student club wants to show a film. Do we still need Public Performance Rights?
The showing of a film by a group or club is considered for entertainment purposes and thus PPR is required. 

What about a film series hosted by a campus instructor(s), group, or club that is open to and advertised to the public?
The showing of a film as part of a film series is viewed as entertainment even if hosted or sponsored by an educational group or club. No matter how educational the setting or how tied to the curriculum, this is generally considered not to be fair use and PPR must be obtained.

I own the DVD that I want to show at a student club meeting or event. Do I still need to get PPR?
It doesn't matter where the film you are planning to show comes from -- your own collection, the Library's or the corner video rental shop. The analysis is the same. If an exception under copyright law does not apply (e.g. fair use, face to face teaching), then you must obtain PPR prior to showing the film.

I want to play one or more songs over the speakers at an upcoming sporting event. Do I need to get PPR?
Yes! If the music is covered by copyright, meaning it's not covered by an open license, like those from Creative Commons, you will need to seek those rights through ASCAP and BMI, most likely. Contact TCC's copyright officer for guidance in doing so.

Creating online video

Please visit the links below for a more complete discussion around the use of copyrighted video online.

VERY briefly, short snippets of copyrighted video may qualify for fair use in a multimedia production if the creator:

  • is commenting on or critiquing the video
  • uses the video as an illustration or example of something
  • captures the content incidentally or accidentally (a popular song is playing in the background at your niece's graduation party)
  • is reproducing, reposting or quoting in order to memorialize, preserve or rescue and experiece, event or cultural phenonmenon
  • is launching a discussion about the work
  • is recombining elements to make a new work
Creative Commons License
The content of these guides, unless otherwise noted, by Kirk Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.