Archive for category Video

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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Use of YouTube™ and Google™ Videos for Instruction

Q.  I am a media specialist at a high school where we have several teachers who would like to show YouTube™ and Google™ videos in the classes. We are trying to find out the copyright laws in regards to using these types of resources.

A.  The use of both the “YouTube™” and “Google™” video sites are governed by user license agreements.  Licenses are contracts that supersede copyright laws and privileges.  At the bottom of the home pages for both sites, you will find in small print the words “Terms of Use.”  If you click on on this link, you will be brought to the license/contract language governing what the user is allowed to do and restricted from doing when using videos found on “YouTube™” and “Google™.”

In both cases, they make it known that if the images, logos, videos, artwork, text or other content is the creation and property of “YouTube™ or Google™”, the license requires that you obtain prior permission when using the materials for anything other than personal use.  Content that is contributed by users is protected by Copyright Law and that is stated in both licenses.  Since the licenses basically state that the contributed works are under Copyright protection, then Fair Use, special exemptions under the law and  privileges found in the various Copyright Guidelines and in Distance Learning (The TEACH Act ) would still apply.

In the case of contributed materials to these sites, linking to the specific materials would appear to be permissible, as well as live presentations in class, as per Section 110(1) of the Copyright Law, granting educators the right to display and perform copyrighted materials for the purpose of “Face-to-Face” instruction.  However, when it comes to a use that would require downloading the videos, archiving them for later use, or incorporating them into a distance learning course or other presentation, it appears, from the license statements, that owners of the content need to be contacted, unless the owners of that content have stated in their submission that end users have the right to download or retransmit the materials.  In the case of “YouTube™”, if the individual video doesn’t have a download button on the page that hosts the individual video, then, according to the “YouTube™”, Terms of Use Agreement, it would not be permissible to download or copy that video.

It is important to become familiar with the “Terms of Use” for both sites and to understand the privileges and limitations stated therein.

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Downloading/Linking to YouTube Videos

Q.  Is it permissible to download a YouTubetm video and incorporate it into my on-line course, which is hosted on a restricted access network?

A. In terms of YouTube, their on-site, legal statements indicate that unless there is a download button on the screen for the video desired, it is not permissible to download the video.  Even if it is permissible to download, it is also stated that materials posted on YouTube are for personal use only.  When one agrees/accepts the terms and conditions of using a site, they are now operating under an agreement, which is contractual in nature.  Contract law supersedes copyright. Based on the restrictions stated on the site, I would recommend utilizing links to the video titles you wish to use, rather than downloading and embedding the video segments into your course.

The negative to linking is that you periodically need to check to see if the link is still active or hasn’t been hacked and is pointing to a less desirable location.  However, the positives to linking are not only do you avoid potential copyright issues, but you tie up less space on your institutional server than when storing video segments.

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Recording Book Readings for Airing On CCTV

Q. May video taped recordings of a teacher or community helper orally reading a book from the media center’s collection be made for the purpose of viewing over the school’s TV distribution system for special occasions, such as Children’s Book Week?

A. Reading a book onto audio tape or video tape constitutes making a copy of the entire book and changing the format. Both are potential violations of the rights of the copyright holder. Then, taking the copied work and airing it over a transmission system, without transmission rights, is another potential violation.

What would be permissible would be a “book talk” where the book is summarized and a few, brief sections are read in order stimulate interest in having students read the book(s). It would also be permissible to read the book live without recording the presentation.

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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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Use of Entertainment Videos for Family Night

Q. May we use an entertainment video, rented from a neighborhood rental store, for a family night at our school?

A. The use of entertainment videos for a public showing, with or without an admittance charge, requires a public performance license. Your neighborhood rental agency is not empowered to grant such a license.

Movie Licensing USA represents a number of well known production companies, such as Disney, Universal Studios, Dreamworks etc., that by the payment of an annual fee, per student at your school, it covers your school’s use of any entertainment video for use in the school for non-instructional purposes. This would include using it for the purpose you intend, with the requirement that the video title could not be used in any promotional piece or advertising and no admission charge is made for viewing the movie.

Once having the license, videos may be obtained by purchase, rental, loan, or by donation to the school.

You may contact Movie Licensing USA at 877-321-1300 or on the web at On the web you will find a listing of all the potential uses of entertainment videos covered by the license and the terms and restrictions of use.

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Use of TV Commercials

Q. Would it be acceptable to air a few commercials, via closed circuit TV throughout our school, to be used for a comparison/contrast lesson in each teacher’s classroom? The commercials were taped off-air, not from cable.

A. Currently, the only direct, off-air permissions for educators are part of the Off-air Taping Guidelines. Those guidelines permit the taping and presentation in a classroom, but make no stated provision for airing over a closed circuit system. Without any explicit permission being granted, it then becomes a matter of interpretation, under the general concept of Fair Use, as to whether the material may be used. Potentially, for instructional use, brief segments, rather than complete programs, might fall under the general category of Fair Use, but, once again, that is only one possible interpretation

You might consult with your institution’s attorney for an official position to be taken, since the Off-air taping Guidelines make no provision for closed circuit redistribution of content taped off-air. Using stand-alone, in a classroom, is generally considered permissible.

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