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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Playing Songs From IPod in Auditorium

Q. Groups in our school have a need to play songs for events such as the Variety Show, Prom Style Show, etc. I recently found out that they are using a personal IPOD and hooking it through the sound system. The songs have been purchased through the Apple download site for 79 or 99 cents. I would like to know if my thinking on this problem is correct: Songs downloaded are for personal use. There are no public performance rights attached. Playing them through the auditorium system to a crowd who has paid for tickets would be a potential infringement of the copyright law. Are my assumptions correct?

A. Your assumptions are correct.

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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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