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Media Rights

This guide attempts to answer questions about DVDs and streaming media use in and outside of the classroom.

Things to Consider

Fair use is a limitation on copyright where purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research are not infringements of copyright. All four fair use factors much be examined and weighed evenly in order to make a fair use determination:

1) the purpose and character of the use,

     The more a faculty member does to add new commentary, value, meaning, and messages to the screening, the greater the transformative use to qualify as fair use. A screening that is punctuated with numerous interventions by the instructor would be transformative, as the instructor is changing the viewing experience substantially, adding meaning and messages of her own, throughout the experience.

2) the nature of the work copied

     This is where we consider how “creative” the original work is, but with films, any use could be appropriate.

3) the amount and substantiality of the work used

     How much of the film is needed to fulfill the purpose of it being shown? Sometimes it can be the whole film! In almost every case, ensuring the screening is only accessible to enrolled students will be crucial. Using a system that is protected by authentication (Canvas) helps to “mimic the classroom” access via technology. Limiting Zoom attendance to enrolled students will have the same effect. The duration of access should also be limited to what’s appropriate for the teaching goal.

4) the effect on the market for the original.

      If your use simply replaces what would normally be a purchase or license, you will have a harder time arguing for fair use. If the titles you need are readily available on affordable commercial services or on library platforms, obtaining access through those channels makes more sense than streaming with Zoom. With DVDs, you could make a fair use of various clips and scenes for your educational use. However, when these films are only available through a streaming service, you face new legal questions, because you access streaming films subject to a restrictive license.

Knowing and applying fair use analysis correctly gives you a reasonable belief, formed in good faith, that the use qualifies as fair. While this won’t necessarily shift the balance of a fair use analysis, it may influence a third party or other entity that could question a person’s fair use.

Much of this content is taken from Kyle Courtney, Brandon Butler, and Tucker Taylor's "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom: Copyright and Face-to-Face TEACH-ing in a COVID-19 World."



Showing films from the Libraries streaming collection directly through Zoom is not recommended because of bandwidth issues. If you would like your students to watch a film in its entirety during class time, the best thing to do is to have them mute themselves and all log into the streaming service on their own computers.

Switch the recording option off in Zoom to prevent anyone from recording films.