Archive for category Duplication

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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Converting Formats

Q. We are considering purchasing equipment that will convert our videos into DVDs. Our intentions are to reduce storage space as well as to preserve the productions for our future use. These are commercially-produced educational videos that we have purchased for our library, Are there copyright guidelines that cover this procedure?

A. Copyright doesn’t protect ideas, but does protect the format in which the ideas are expressed. One of the five rights granted an author is the right to have a derivative work created based upon their work. Changing formats is creating a derivative work in another form. When one purchases a video program, they actually do not own the program, but rather are granted the right to use that program.

With the preceding in mind, you can still write to the copyright holders of the programs you wish to convert to DVD requesting permission and establishing the rationale for converting formats. The worst scenario is that they will not grant permission. They may grant permission with or without a fee involved.

Some educational institutions, when purchasing video programs, have obtained transmission and duplication rights. If, in fact, you have videos in your collection that have such rights,you would need to verify if the license/contract permitting duplication includes conversion to another format, in this case, DVD.

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