Archive for category Converting Formats

Recording A Story By Reading the Book

Q.  An 11th grade ESE student needs an audio version of a story, and I am unable to locate a DVD, cassette or playaway of the book from any vendors.  Would it be permissible to record myself reading the book for this one student?  The CD would be destroyed and not added to our collection.  We have multiple copies of this book, but an audio format would assist her at home where the primary language is Spanish.  If I could locate an audio format, I would purchase it.  Would you advise writing to the publisher asking for their permission?

A.  I would recommend your contacting your district’s Exceptional Student Education Office and your district Media Center to see if they are able to make contact with the appropriate state support agency and see if they have the item in their collection.  If they don’t, the agency can check to see if they are able to obtain a recording from the Division of the Handicapped and Blind of the Library of Congress, which provides such resources to the states.  If the materials are not available via this approach, I would recommend your contacting the publisher indicating why there is a need to make such a recording and would they be able to grant permission to carry out this activity.

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Converting a VHS Recording No Longer Available

Q.  If you make a DVD copy of a VHS tape that is no longer available for purchase, is that copyright acceptable?

A.  If your school originally purchased the VHS tape with duplication rights, then it would be permissible to convert the video to DVD format.  If not, you would need to obtain permission from the copyright owner. A work, no longer in production, doesn’t end copyright protection. The only rights that are granted to a purchaser of video program is the right to play and view the program.  The purchaser doesn’t own the program, but only the media on which it is recorded.

There is a provision in the Digital Millennium Act, that pertains solely to libraries, that when a medium is no longer in production and the equipment to play it back on is no longer in production, then a library may convert its original holding to another media format.  Currently, the only media meeting this definition is 8 track, audio tapes.

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Copying or Modifying Logos

Q.  Our Technology Education department recently acquired 3D printers.  Students create a design using computer software.  The 3D printer then creates the design and prints out the actual object.  If a student draws, for example, a professional, football team, logo and prints it, is this acceptable?

A.  The official web site of the Copyright Office of the US states, in response to the following question:

“How do I copyright a name, title, slogan or logo?
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark. ”

As per the preceding, in general, logos are not a copyright protected work, unless they contain sufficient, original authorship.  This might be difficult for you to determine. However, assuming that the football team logo is not eligible for copyright protection, it may have been registered as an official trademark of the team.  If it has, unlike Copyright, there are no Fair Use provisions for using trademarked images, which means, with a few exceptions, they could not be used without prior permission.

Overall, my recommendation would be to obtain permission prior to using an organization’s logo, due to variables in regard to the legal status of the logos and a very limited and highly interpretive set of exceptions as to when logos may be used without prior permission.

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Recording Books Onto iPods™ for Student Loan

Q.  Our school purchased iPod shuffles for use with reading groups in first grade. Last year we recorded one book onto each iPod shuffle and checked it out to low readers as a “trial” program. This year, teachers have recorded all kinds of books and reading materials onto the shuffles. As an example, there  is a reading series purchased by the district that is accompanied by tapes and cd’s which a teacher has “loaded” onto an iPod. Other teachers want the iPods so they can “load” whatever books they have in print and cd form. What are the guidelines as far as digitally changing the format of material? If we purchased iPods instead of cd players and there is no “iTunes store” download available for purchase, are we ok?

A. All of the recording activities you have indicated require prior permission.  Unless the school district, when adopting a textbook and ancillary materials, negotiated duplicating rights, the fact that recordings were purchased, doesn’t give the right to make copies.  The purchase of a book doesn’t give one the right to convert that book into another format  and then to make further copies of that format.  The act of making such copies potentially infringes the rights of the author for making copies of their works and being able to create derivative works based on their works.

In reference to iTunes, the use of the site and the downloading of content from that site is governed by the license one agrees to when using iTunes.  License agreements are contracts and contract law supersedes copyright.  iTunes only permits downloads to be used for personal use.  Even though a teacher or a school opens an iTunes account, this doesn’t grant the teacher or school additional privileges.  However, unless there are further restrictions stated on the site, materials purchased may still be eligible for claims of Fair Use and there still would be the opportunity to use portions according to various guidelines that exist, such as the Educational MultiMedia Guidelines or the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.

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