Blackwell Library
Holloway Hall

Film or Motion Media Copying and Performance/Display

Copyright Symbol imageCreating Works (copying portions)

Students Multimedia Projects

Conservative guidelines allow use of 10% or 3 minutes of motion media, whichever is less, if the project is created for a specific course and is shown in the course and/or is incorporated in a portfolio for later personal uses (job interviews, graduate school applications).

If it is a musical video, then the guidelines are 10% (no more than 30 seconds).

Faculty Multimedia Projects

Conservative, but not legally binding, guidelines allow use of 10% or 3 minutes of motion media, whichever is less, for up to two years before obtaining permission for teaching, if:

  1. the project is a teaching tool for face-to-face, online classes and directed studies

  2. students are advised that they cannot copy presentations

  3. online sessions are limited to students enrolled in sessions

  4. online sessions use technology to prevent copying or in its absence faculty post projects for 15 days after their initial real-time or assigned use followed by access to a copy in the library or similar location for on-site use only

If it is a musical video, then the guidelines are 10% (no more than 30 seconds).

Although the process of securing permissions should begin immediately if the multimedia teaching tool will be used for more than two years, other uses do not have the same prescribed time limits: use in presentations at workshops and conferences and in personal portfolios (tenure reviews, job applications).

Media Services Policies regarding Videotaping

Videotapes produced by faculty for use in their classes must contain visuals, audio and clips that are copyright free.

Media Services does not duplicate copyrighted videotapes, CDs or DVDs. If faculty gets written permission from the copyright holder, the department will duplicate the medium.


Any videotaping of guest speakers, who come to campus and is video recorded, requires a signed release form.

For more information on Media Services, visit the Integrated Media Center page and/or contact Cynthia Cornish

Faculty Distance Education Materials

The Teach Act allows faculty to convert analog copies to digital if the amount converted is comparable to what that may be legally performed or displayed as outlined above and if a digital copy is either unavailable or available but secured by technology that prevents uses that copyright law allows.

For multimedia projects and other uses, several sites list films in the public domain films, which may be used without requesting permission.

Copying Works (copying entire works)

Except for off-air broadcasts, library copying of news programs, library copying of owned materials for preservation (or for obsolete formats for which players are no longer available at a fair price), and limited digitizing of slide collections, the copying of entire works is a clear copyright violation.

Equipment used to copy videotapes should include a notice such as:


Off Air Recording (radio or television)

Guidelines for off-air recording (PDF file, p.22) of broadcast programming for educational purposes was developed by a Negotiating Committee of educators, copyright owners, and creative guilds appointed in March 1979 by Congressman Robert Kastenmeier, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, Civil Liberties, and Administration of Justice. These guidelines address broadcast, not pay-TV, programs.

Covering formal classroom/instructional and homebound instruction, the guidelines require that off-air recordings:

  • be made simultaneous with the broadcast transmission
  • be for use in non-profit educational institutions
  • be made by or at the request of individual teachers, copied in limited numbers to meet each teacher's needs, and include the copyright notice of the broadcast program
  • be made one time
  • be left intact, not altered
  • be kept no more than 45 consecutive calendar days
  • be destroyed or erased after 45 consecutive calendar days
  • be shown in the first ten days after made by individual teachers and usually one time, two if essential for instructional reinforcement
  • be used by teachers after the first ten school-session days only to evaluate their inclusion in the curriculum


Displaying legally obtained copies of audio-visual works for instructional purposes, without requesting permission, is fine provided that the performance is:

  • by instructors. guest lecturers, or students
  • in connection with face-to-face or distance education instruction*
  • for an audience that is directly involved in the teaching activity
  • delivered in a classroom or place devoted to instruction (library, workshop space, etc.)

In a few limited cases, it is possible to copy a broadcast even if it exceeds fair use guidelines. For instance, if a PBS broadcast airs tonight, will be available for sale, but is perfect for tomorrow's class, it could be copied and shown but would then need to be deleted and a copy purchased for use in future classes.

*The TEACH Act, which updates earlier restrictions on performing works in other than face-to-face classrooms, allows the performance or display of any work in an amount comparable to that displayed in the course of a live classroom session (in some cases, entire videos when essential to a course, e.g., The Films of John Ford).

Showing a rented film or any film with a "For Home Use Only" label generates controversy, as does much of copyright law and practice. As do other universities, this university:

  • considers a rented film a legally obtained film
  • considers the library an extension of the classroom
  • determines that fair use, which permits display and performance for instructional purposes, takes precedence over home use only restrictions

Fair use supports a wide range of instructional needs as well as reasonable limits on those needs. What it does not support is showing films to the larger public, which is not part of classroom activities, or showing films to entertain students. Both would violate copyright law and both require copyright permission prior to performance.

Information Resources

  1. A helpful tutorial on copyright and audiovisual material:

  2. The Center for Social Media at American University provides an array of information: documentary filmmaker's interpretations of fair use, fair use scenarios, and opportunities to blog:

  3. Public Domain Movies and Film provides readily available films for downloading, copying, and performing.

  4. The Internet Moving Image Archive includes more than 1,000 educational, advertising, industrial and amateur films made from 1927 with an option to purchase broadcast quality copies.

  5. Creative Commons lists host sites to which licensed video can be posted and on which it can be found.

  6. Performance of or Showing Films in the Classroom - a from American Library Association (ALA) and Association of Research Libraries (ARL) providing guidance on digital delivery of content to the physical classroom.