Archive for category Multimedia

Use of Royalty Free Music and Book Covers in Video Production

Q.  Students are making book trailers for our Book Festival. If we purchase royalty free music with the right to use the music in a variety of productions, are we able to use selected music in the video  and not be in violation of copyright ?  Are we able to show the cover of a book in any way as part of our presentation?

A.  My response is based on the assumption that students are producing promotional videos that will be shown either within your school/school district’s closed circuit TV system or on local, community cable and that copies of the promotional videos are not being made for any form of distribution to others, either free or by sale.

With the preceding in mind, royalty free music libraries generally permit the use of the music in almost any form of media production for use within the confines of the institution to which the music is licensed.  This generally would include the school/district, closed circuit system.  However, you are actually governed by the license agreement (contract) for the royalty free music and what it will permit/not permit.  I would definitely recommend reviewing the agreement to see what are the permissions/limitations and if there is a reference to using the music on productions that will be transmitted outside of your institution.  If there is no reference to this in the agreement, I would recommend your contacting the copyright owners and obtain clarification/permission in writing, since the use of the music is governed by contract law, not copyright.

In terms of using the book cover in the production, in general, a Fair Use argument can be made for performing this function.  However, covers are copyright protected and if original artwork, the copyright owner may not wish to see their artwork distributed electronically.  Even though Fair Use may apply, since the transmission of the videos may take place beyond the confines of a school or your district, I would recommend contacting the copyright owners of the images you desire to use for their permission.  In the process, you may find a consistent enough response that may help you in future use of similar materials without having to write for permission again in the future.

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Using Music In Student Created PowerPoint™ Presentations

Q.  What are the rules regarding the use of music in student created, PowerPoint ™ presentations?

A.  The Educational MultiMedia Guidelines (see  provide an interpretation of Fair Use as to the limits for using various forms of media in a multimedia presentation, such as Powerpoint™.  However, it should be noted that the guidelines were negotiated between copyright owners and educators and the compromise wording sets a conservative floor for what may be done, but not what may possibly be legally done when applying the four criteria of Fair Use.

In other words, there may be instances when more than what is stated in the Guidelines may be used, especially if the student presentations are being made for a class in media literacy or a teacher is teaching using the techniques of media literacy, rather than the traditional use of media.  Please reference the “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in Media Literacy Education” which can be found at:

Make sure to read all the introductory material, and not just the five principles, in order to understand the limits and conditions regarding what is being stated.

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