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Copyright: Faculty Video Use & Copyright

An overview of US Copyright Law.

Using Videos in Canvas

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2002 extends many privileges to faculty teaching in an online context, for example, when using a learning management system such as Canvas or in a distance-education context.

The TEACH Act defines both the array of resources and the amount of those resources that can be transmitted from one location to another in the context of an online course. Generally, the following describes the conditions under which copyrighted works can be used under the TEACH Act.

1. The work transmitted is lawfully made or acquired. 

2. The work transmitted is not marketed for instructional purposes.

3. The work transmitted is integral to a class session.

4. The work transmitted is part of instructional activities supervised by the instructor.

5. The nature and portion of the transmitted work accord with the following guidelines:

A.        a non-dramatic literary work (You may use all.);

B.        a non-dramatic musical work (You may use all.);

C.        a performance of any other work, including dramatic works and audiovisual works (You may use only reasonable and limited portions or a display in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session.).

6. Reception of the work is limited to students enrolled in the course.

7. Students' retention of the work is for no longer than the limit of a class session.

8. Reasonable downstream controls have been instituted to discourage or prevent subsequent dissemination beyond the student recipient.

9. For conversions of a copyrighted work from analog to digital form:

A.        no digital version is available to the institution, or;

B.        a digital version is available but technologically protected.

10. A copyright warning notice is present on the transmitted work.

Free, Open, Public-Licensed, and Public Domain Audiovisual Works for Nonprofit Use

Generally, many of these sites may list sources that are free to use in an educational setting, but they must be acknowledged, sometimes according to guidelines in the resource.  Read the Licenses, Terms of Use, or FAQs within each website for further details for any restrictions on use.

Vimeo - A large collection of videos licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses or the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication. Note that many videos on Vimeo are under copyright and have not been licensed under any open license.

Moving Image Archive from Internet Archive - A service of the Internet Archive. It contains free movies, films, and video, many of which are licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses or are in the public domain.

Moving Image Research Center - At the Library of Congress, this provides a number of collections of early motion pictures, many of which are in the public domain.

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) - A web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.

MERLOT - Thousands of discipline-specific learning materials, learning exercises, etc.

Open Learning at Harvard - Features online learning content from across the University, both free and fee-based options.

OpenVideo Project - A Project of the School of Library and Information Science at UNC Chapel Hill, the goal is to collect and make available a repository of digitized video content for research communities.

TED Talks  - A collection of recorded presentations from the TED (Technology, Entertainment Design) conference. Talks are generally short and run the gamut of topics from biotechnology to astronomy to population to urban design and beyond.

Thomas Edison, American Inventer 1847-1931

Edison's Magic Lantern Poster.

Face-to-Face Teaching in the Classroom

1. Copyrighted DVDs: Generally, showing all or part of a lawfully obtained video in your classroom is allowed under Fair Use as long as all four factors of the “Fair Use Test” are met.  The teaching activity is for students registered for class and instructional activity must be taking place.

Rental DVDs and personal copies can be shown as long as they are lawfully made.

2. Streaming Services Such as Netflix: The Netflix Terms of Use states that "The Netflix service, and any content viewed through our service, are for your personal and non-commercial use only. " Current interpretation of personal subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. is that the educational exemptions found in copyright law does not apply to these services.

Source: Ezor, J.I. (2013) Streaming while teaching: the legality of using personal streaming video accounts for the classroom. Albany Law Journal, 23, 221-236. Retrieved from:

3. Broadcast Programs: May be recorded 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.

Source:Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians (Section F, Page 22).

Guidelines for Best Practice

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries

"The code identifies eight situations that represents the library community's current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials and how those rights should apply in certain recurrent situations." 

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication

"Created by the International Communication Association.  Helps U.S. communication scholars to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use."

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

"A code of best practices that helps educators using media literacy concepts and techniques to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use."

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare

"A code of best practices designed to help those preparing OpenCourseWare (OCW) to interpret and apply fair use under United States copyright law."

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video

"A code of best practices that helps creators, online providers, copyright holders, and others interested in the making of online video interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use."

Obtaining Public Performance Rights (PPR)

Individuals and organizations are responsible for obtaining public performance rights for all non-exempt showings. There are two ways to obtain PPR, also known as permission or a license:

1. Contact the copyright holder directly, or contact the distributor.  If the distributor has the authority from the copyright owner to grant licenses, to purchase public performance rights or to request permission for a particular public performance use, permission or license can be directly obtained.

2. Contact the licensing service representing the particular studio or title (note - this will generally be required for all feature length films). Services vary in the types of licensing offered and the scope of materials represented. Some of the companies that provide (for a fee) public performance licenses are listed below:‚Äč

Also see the next page of this LibGuide on Identifying and Locating Copyright Owners.