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Copyright and Fair Use

Showing or playing copyrighted media for classroom instruction in the classroom or for distance education

SCENARIO:  An instructor wishes to show or play copyrighted media either in portions or in its entirety in her classroom for instructional purposes.
GUIDELINE: This is fair use since it is for course instruction and no admission fee is charged. Tuition and course fees do not constitute admission fees.
SOURCE: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 110 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays)

SCENARIO: An instructor wishes to digitize and transmit copyrighted media either in portions or in its entirety to her online class for instructional purposes.
GUIDELINE: This is fair use as long as it is: a) for course instruction; b) no admission fee is charged; c) the media is restricted to students officially enrolled in the course; d) and technological measures are applied that prevent the retention of the work for longer than the class session and prevent unauthorized further dissemination of the work. Please note that depending on the length of the work, there may be technical limitations associated with bandwidth and storage. Each case must be coordinated with the instructor’s course developer in the Online Learning Center. In all cases, the instructor should ensure that the copyright notice is included in the transmission.
SOURCES: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 110 (Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays; U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 112  (Limitations on exclusive rights: Ephemeral Recordings)Subtitle C of Title III of Public Law 107-273: The 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AKA The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002 (TEACH Act)

SCENARIO: An instructor wishes to play copyrighted media from their personal streaming service, such as Netflix or iTunes, in a face-to-face classroom for instructional purposes.
GUIDELINE: An Electronic User License Agreement (EULA) is essentially a contract that customers agree to when creating a personal account with a streaming service. EULAs, which are subject to change, vary by provider and have different clauses and conditions as to how the service can and cannot be used. The instructor should check the current EULA for the streaming service and refer to U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 110 to determine whether his or her intended use falls within the fair use guidelines before using the streamed media in class.
SOURCE: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 110 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays)

Copying media for classroom instruction

SCENARIO: An instructor makes a copy of a video or sound recording for a colleague to show in her class at the same time.
GUIDELINE: This is not a fair use. The teacher may lend the recording but may not make a copy of it unless she has obtained permission from the copyright holder.
SOURCE: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 110 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays)

Copying media into another format for classroom instruction

SCENARIO: An instructor requests a copy of a library-owned video in a format that will play on University classroom equipment in Europe or Asia, such as PAL format.
GUIDELINE: This would be a fair use if a copy in the needed format cannot be purchased at a reasonable market price. The library may make one copy of the media and place the original in storage until the copy is returned and destroyed.
SOURCES: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 107 (Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use) and U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 108 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives)

Showing or playing media in a public setting

SCENARIO: An instructor or student or campus organization wishes to show or play copyrighted media (including library, personal, or rented media) on or off campus free of charge in a public setting. A public setting is defined by law as “at a place open to the public” or where "persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered."
GUIDELINE: This is a fair use only if the instructor, student, or club has negotiated public performance rights. A few of the library's videos have public performance rights. To see a list of these, type the following in the key word search of the library's catalog: "public performance rights.” Furthermore, if the instructor, student, or group wishes to charge admission, this right must also be negotiated. For a listing of companies that offer public performance rights, please see the “Public Video Performances and Copyright Law” section of the current Webster University Student Organization Handbook.
SOURCE: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 110 (Limitation on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays)

Off-air recording of broadcasts for classroom use

SCENARIO: An instructor wishes to show in her class either portions of or the entirety of a broadcast program recorded off-air for instructional purposes.
GUIDELINE: There are very specific Federal government guidelines for this (see below).  As long as the off-air recording meets these guidelines, it is fair use.
GUIDELINES FOR OFF-AIR RECORDING OF BROADCAST PROGRAMMING FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES

  1. The guidelines were developed to apply only to off-air recording by non-profit educational institutions.
  2. A broadcast program may be recorded off-air simultaneously with broadcast transmission (including simultaneous cable transmission) and retained by a non-profit educational institution for a period not to exceed the first forty-five (45) consecutive calendar days after date of recording. Upon conclusion of such retention period, all off-air recordings must be erased or destroyed immediately. “Broadcast programs” are television programs transmitted by television stations for reception by the general public without charge. (PLEASE NOTE: The guidelines do not apply to programs available only from subscription television services such as Showtime, HBO, The Disney Channel, C-Span, and ESPN.)
  3. Off-air recordings may be used once by individual teachers in the course of relevant teaching activities, and repeated once only when instructional reinforcement is necessary, in classrooms and similar places devoted to instruction within a single building, cluster, or campus, as well as in the homes of students receiving formalized home instruction, during the first ten (10) consecutive school days in the forty-five (45) day calendar day retention period. “School days” are school session days—not counting weekends, holidays, vacations, examination periods, or other scheduled interruptions—within the forty-five (45) calendar day retention period.
  4. Off-air recordings may be made only at the request of, and used by, individual teachers, and may not be regularly recorded in anticipation of requests. No broadcast program may be recorded off-air more than once at the request of the same teacher, regardless of the number of times the program may be broadcast.
  5. A limited number of copies may be reproduced from each off-air recording to meet the legitimate needs of teachers under these guidelines. Each such additional copy shall be subject to all provisions governing the original recording.
  6. After the first ten (10) consecutive school days, off-air recording may be used up to the end of the forty-five (45) calendar day retention period only for teacher evaluation purposes, i.e., to determine whether or not to include the broadcast program in the teaching curriculum, and may not be used in the recording institution for student exhibition or any other non-evaluation purpose without authorization.
  7. Off-air recordings need not be used in their entirety, but the recorded programs may not be altered from their original content. Off-air recordings may not be physically or electronically combined or merged to constitute teaching anthologies or compilations.
  8. All copies of off-air recordings must include the copyright notice on the broadcast program as recorded.
  9. Educational institutions are expected to establish appropriate control procedures to maintain the integrity of these guidelines.

SOURCES: U.S. Copyright Office Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians Rev: 08/2014; Using Videotape in the Classroom without Violating Copyright Law