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Copyright for Teaching and Instruction

General FAQs


I have a DVD (or VHS) of a film and I want to digitize it.  Will the FAU Libraries convert it into an .mp3 or other streaming format?
The Libraries cannot convert a movie from one format into another.  This typically violates a work's copyright.

I found the complete version of a documentary on YouTube and I want to show it.  Can I do that?
The users of YouTube, Vimeo, and other video sites sometimes post works that were pirated or posted without permission of the copyright holder.  Unless a work was posted by its actual copyright holder or distributor, we do not recommend using such works for teaching or to show at events.  In addition, the work may be taken down without notice.  Showing the documentary or giving out its link is your choice, but the Libraries recommend ethical and legal uses of creative and intellectual work. 

Image credit:  Scrabble words by Joshua Miranda,,  Permission by Pixabay license.

Faculty and Instructors


Streaming Video


May I show clips of films to my students as part of a lecture?
Generally, yes, this is permissible under fair use. Apply the four factors of fair use to determine whether the film in question may be used for this purpose and how much of the film may be shown. New exemptions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) permit educators to "rip" clips from videos for educational purposes. 

Would the In-Class Performance or Class Use exceptions apply to an online class or content I post to my LMS?  
The Class Use exception includes some specific details for where it applies, one of which that allows use within a face-to-face classroom when done in a non-profit educational organization.  It does not apply to using copyrighted works in online settings, whether it is for your online class or if you want to post things to your LMS (which is considered an online setting, even if your class itself is face-to-face). 

I found a streaming video with permissions available through the FAU Libraries.  I assigned it as homework for both the face-to-face and online versions of my course.  What's the recommended way to give students access to this film?
The streaming video should have a durable link or permalink (also known as a PURL) available through its platform (e.g., Alexander Street Press or Kanopy), so copy and share this link through your LMS.  Sharing a link on its own does not violate copyright. 

Embedding the streaming video player into your LMS is also an option that does not violate copyright.  We find, however, that it frequently results in access lag time.  For better video quality, we recommend embedding a PURL in your LMS.

What does "Home Use Only" mean? Does it mean I cannot show this DVD to my class?
Under copyright law, copyright holders have the exclusive right of performing or displaying their copyrighted works, including films or videos. The "Home Use Only" warning at the beginning of most DVDs refers to this exclusive right of performance and display. However, the law also has an exception for performing or displaying works in a face-to-face teaching situation where the work being performed or displayed is related to the curriculum and only being performed or displayed for students enrolled in a course at a non-profit educational institution (such as FAU).  Therefore, under this exception, DVDs with the "Home Use Only" warning can be played in a face-to-face classroom. For online courses, refer to fair use for determining how much of the film can be shown.

Campus Organizations and Events

My student club wants to show a film but it is for educational purposes. There is a plan for discussion about the issues raised in the film after it's shown. Do we still need Public Performance Rights?
It depends. Ordinarily, the showing of a film by a group or club is for entertainment purposes and thus PPR is required. However, if the group's purpose and activities are ordinarily educational nature and the showing of the film is in furtherance of those educational purposes and activities, then it may be fair use to show clips of the film without PPR. 

What about a film series hosted by a group or club that is open to and advertised to the public?
The showing of a film as part of a film series is viewed as entertainment, even if hosted or sponsored by an educational group or club. No matter how educational the setting or how tied to the curriculum, this is generally considered not to be fair use and PPR must be obtained.

I own the DVD that the club I am a member of wants to show. Do I still need to get PPR?
It doesn't matter where the film you are planning to show comes from -- your own collection, the library, or one you purchased. The analysis is the same. If an exception under copyright law does not apply (e.g. fair use, In-Class Use), then you must obtain PPR prior to showing the film.

Using Amazon, Netflix, or Another Streaming Video Service

Netflix Terms of Use

The film I want to show is on Netflix. Can I stream this through my Netflix account in the classroom?
Streaming video services have very detailed membership agreements or terms of use that may forbid the streaming of subscribed content in a classroom or other public venue;  read the service's terms of use or other agreements for details (see above for Netflix's terms).  When you agree to the terms of membership, you enter into a contract and the terms of that contract override any applicable exception in copyright.  Therefore, if the membership agreement with a service prohibits showing a film in a classroom, you are bound by the terms of that agreement even if the Class Use exception would otherwise allow it. 

Netflix provide lists of some their original documentaries that have permission for educational uses; see their website to search for titles.

Image credit:  Netflix (2021).  Netflix terms of use [Web page].

Last updated on Jan 29, 2024 2:13 PM