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Copyright Basics: Film & Images

This guide helps you sort through the tangled web of Copyright!

Using Videos

If the above circumstances and requirements are met:


a. Can I show part or all of a copyrighted movie?

  • Using my own copy?
  • Using the library’s copy?
  • Using a copy I rented from a store?
  • Using a copy I taped from TV?

Can I digitize a VHS movie?

Can I make a DVD of all the clips I use and distribute it to the class?

In order to fit within the 110(2) provision, you can use a “reasonable” portion of a movie or a piece of music. (Note: this differs from the face-to-face classroom where you may play the entire work.) The currently acceptable “downstream” control is to use streaming technology. The copy you excerpt from must be lawfully made and not specifically designed and marketed for online courses. For a discussion of whose copy you may use, see Part I, question 4b.

Under 110(2), you may digitize the reasonable portions you intend to use from a VHS or other non-digital format, as long as there is no digital version available to the institution or the available digital version is encrypted.

Section 110(2) would not permit you to make a DVD of your online clips to provide your students with their personal copy because you cannot control the uses made after the class session. You should consider whether this would be permitted as a fair use.

Royalty Free Media Resouces