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Copyright Resources

Media in the Classroom

Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act addresses performance and display of copyrighted materials in the face-to-face classroom. For performance and display through digital transmission (i.e. Canvas) see the TEACH Act.

FAQs about Classroom Uses of Video (Performance)

  1. Can faculty show videos to a class?
  2. Can rental store videos be used to show in class?
  3. Can library videos be shown in class?
  4. Do I need public performance rights to show a video in a class?
  5. When to I need public performance rights?
  6. How do I go about getting public performance rights?
  7. Do the Libraries' videos automatically come with public performance rights?
  8. When I order a video for the libraries' collection, can I request public performance rights?
  9. How can I tell if the video I am borrowing from the library has public performance rights?
  10. What about videos that can be purchased with streaming capability?
  11. What about using streaming Netflix?
  12. Can I show a YouTube video to my class?
  13. Can I copy a video to make short portions or a compilation for video clips to show in class?` Text of Section 110(1) for face-to-face performance and display See also Best Practices tab for Codes of Best Practice  

1. Can faculty show copyrighted videos to a class?

Yes, faculty may show all or part of a video (i.e. documentary, motion picture) in a face-to-face class setting, but there are some boundaries. The showing must be:

  • a "regular part of systematic instructional activities"
  • in a nonprofit educational institution
  • in a classroom or "similar place devoted to instruction"
  • the copy used must be lawfully made
  • Other notes: instructional activity must be taking place. The teaching activity should not be open to the public. The use of the video should be limited to the campus grounds.

2. Can rental store videos be used to show in class?

Yes, these are lawfully made. Netflix DVDs are also permissible.

3. Can library videos be shown in class?

Yes. The library can purchase DVDs, let us know what you need.

4. Do I need public performance rights to show a video in a class?

No.

5. When do I need public performance rights?

This is necessary when a video is shown and not related to a teaching activity. Campus clubs and social events that wish to show videos must have permission or public performance rights. Any event that is open to the public is a public performance and needs public performance rights.

6. How do I go about getting public performance rights?

Student organizations can work with the Student Government Association to obtain public performance rights.

7. Do the Libraries' videos automatically come with public performance rights?

Not automatically for every video, although some video suppliers include public performance rights with the basic purchase. In some cases you have to purchase the rights on a situational basis.

8. When I order a video for the libraries' collections, can I request public performance rights?

Yes, and the cost is often higher than the typical video, naturally. Some of the Library's streaming databases come with public performance rights. Check with the Multimedia Resources Department in the Library. 

9. How can I tell if the video I am borrowing from the library has public performance rights?

Right now you will have to check with library staff. Contact the Multimedia Resources Department in the Library.

10. What about videos that can be purchased with streaming capability?

Some companies offer educational videos both on DVD and with streaming from the company's server. It is possible for some of these videos to be cataloged and proxied in the Libraries' online catalog to be viewed by MSU faculty, students and staff anytime. Links to these databases can be added to your course management site.

11. What about using streaming Netflix?

Instructors may wish to have students watch videos outside of class. While setting this up through Canvas or a content management system, such as NJVid, may seem like the solution, showing entire popular, general release movies this way is a real stretch of Fair Use and under the TEACH Act involves licensing. Consider having your students get their own accounts through services like Netflix or Amazon to view movies. While you may show a DVD movie in its entirety in a face-to-face class, you most likely do not want to spend class time this way. These services are inexpensive solutions to the video viewing problem.

12. Can I show a YouTube video to my classes?

Yes, using YouTube to demonstrate pedagogical points is fine, however, do not use YouTube videos that contain infringing content just as you would not use any other type of infringing content. YouTube is particularly rife with such material despite YouTube's best efforts. The best way to handle a YouTube video is to link to it. Using YouTube's embedded code for linking is ok also; it's just code and YouTube makes it available for users to embed.

13. Can I copy a video to make short portions or a compilation of video clips to show in class?

Most videos today are protected by content scrambling systems (CSS), technological protection measures (TPMs) or digital rights management (DRM), and it is a violation of the law to circumvent these protections to copy material from a video. Instructors can always advance video to the portion they wish to comment on, however, the 2012 DMCA exemptions permit faculty and students requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts to circumvent protection measures to make short portions available for viewing. The exemption applies only to motion pictures on DVD or from online distribution services and the circumvention is allowed only when “necessary because reasonably available alternatives, such as noncircumventing methods or using screen capture software …are not able to produce the level of high-quality content required to achieve the desired criticism or comment.” If very high quality copy is not required for the criticism or comment, the law permits the use of screen capture software. Faculty might try products like Camtasia, Jing, and Screencast-o-matic.

There is no definition of "short portions." Consult the DMCA tab on this LibGuide for more information. Also see the U.S. Copyright Office website for the 2012 "Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works.

Text of Section 110 (1) for Face-to-face teaching situations:

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 [of the copyright act], the following are not infringements:

 
(1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made;
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