Whitewright Public Library

Fair Use of Videos for Educational Purposes

The Whitewright Public Library has many videos appropriate for classroom use. However, the Copyright Law of the United States of America apply, with a “fair use” exemption for educational use.

§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include-

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

So can you translate that into English?

Fair use of copyrighted materials means that you are only using a small portion of the work, not the entire thing.

What about movies shown in the classroom?

Movies shown as a reward or entertainment are not fair use, even when they are shown in a classroom. Showing a movie to the class would be a public performance, not a fair use exemption.

Establishment of fair use for motion pictures requires it be directly tied to classroom instruction. Films must also be within the timeframe of teaching the unit. So if you finish testing on Hamlet in September, you cannot claim fair use to show Kenneth Branaugh’s Hamlet in January.

Films must also be appropriate to the subject matter. “Historical films” which are based on real events but essentially fictional, pose a difficult question. Would you read Gone with the Wind in an American History class? If not, viewing the film would not be considered fair use.

No one will ever know! And besides, what can they do?

Schools have been turned in for copyright violations in the past. Disney even pays bounties to those who turn violators. Districts in North Texas, including Mesquite and Arlington, have been to court over the showing of movies in school. Settlements have been in the many thousands of dollars.

Source Material:

Library of Congress Copyright Information
Richardson ISD