CAVEAT: We in the FRC are not lawyers. We cannot offer you legal advice, we can only offer you our informed opinions.
As the College finalizes its official copyright compliance policy this term, many are you are probably wondering what this means for you in terms of using programs recorded off cable/satellite/Internet as well as programs you purchased in DVD formats.
In my old days, teachers used VHS videocassette recorders to record television programs off-air/cable or even satellite. Teachers then cued up the programs to play back a particular segment of the program for their students in a physical classroom. This in many instances was legal because it fell under “fair use guidelines” regarding the recording and playback of off-air programs…
Now with digital television, some teachers may be wondering if the rules have changed. Teachers can record programs with digital video recorders (DVRs) and then mark the location of particular segments in the programs so they can find the particular segment later for playback in a physical classroom. That’s not different from before, only the medium has changed so it’s still legal to do so.
But what about prerecorded DVDs like educational or commercial programs you purchased from PBS or Disney? It’s likely that the program you purchased from the distributor does not entitle you play back the program to a public audience or from copying segments of the program for use in a classroom. Now, there’s nothing to stop someone at home from ripping, i.e., copying a segment from a prerecorded DVD and saving that segment to a DVD for later playback but it’s probably not legal because you did not purchase a license to distribute the program. Also, asking someone in the FRC to capture the segment is also likely not legal and generally in most cases, the legal system holds people in departments like the FRC more accountable because we’re supposed to be more informed than faculty in general.
These days, however, as more on-campus courses are blends of online courses we are getting requests to capture segments of programs teachers have recorded or have purchased for use in an online/Internet/WWW environment. Even though both forms are digital, it is not legal to do so because one is changing the delivery format or medium. Some groups like the Library Copyright alliance are arguing that teachers who incorporate “streaming” videos with other classroom work are in effect repurposing the use of the programs and therefore have the rights to broadcast videos under the fair use doctrine. However, though they base their legal opinion on case law, our position in the FRC is to err on the conservative side until there is more public agreement about said types of uses. Here’s a link to the Library copyright alliance’s position paper for more details.
So what suggestions do we have?
1. If you want to copy a portion of a pre-recorded program, contact the publisher or distributor describing your use, how you will restrict it, and specify the segments you would like to use (We’re working on a revised form here in the FRC that you can adapt for your usage). You might be surprised that some publishers will grant temporary licensing at little or no cost to allow you to copy segments for use in the physical or online classroom.
2. You could copy your segments and use them while waiting for an answer from your publisher, but it’s not legal to do so. Sometimes your use ends before you even hear back from the publisher.
3. If it’s a program you intend to use semester after semester, contact Dr. Jerry Pike’s office in the LRC to see if the LRC has a budget to purchase the licensing for your programs. These purchases become part of the LRC’s video catalogue. Though they are generally captioned DVDs it may consider purchasing captioned streaming versions of your programs instead. Then you can access the streaming versions with a password and scroll/scrub to the segment you want to show in class or online depending on the licensing.
In the future, we’ll be commenting on (1) video/audio taping students in the classroom and (2) making use of their work in subsequent semesters…..