In response to the inquiry by "Mike the techie" regarding copyright laws.....
While I don't pretend to be a definitive expert on all aspects of
copyright law, Sections 107 and 110, Title 17, United States Code (1991)
define "fair use" and discuss some of the permissable uses of media materials
within educational settings.
Generally, the fair use provisions allow an educator to show a
legally acquired (emphasis on legal) video, for example, to a class in the
course of regular face-to-face teaching activities at a non-profit
educational institution. Certain provisions also allow for the
"timeshifting" of commercially-broadcast programming for educational
purposes in the classroom, but the tapes are not supposed to be retained
Too often as the head of a media center, I find people attempting to
interpret the "fair use" provisions very broadly, believing they can copy
anything and everything as long as it is for educational use. Producers of
educational documentaries and other media are entitled to be compensated
for the research, labor, and effort involved in the production of such
materials, just as Hollywood producers are.
The specifics of copyright law are far too in-depth to delve into
here, but a good "rule-of-thumb" I always apply is as follows:
-- If you're thinking about dubbing an educational program in lieu of
rental or purchase of that title, you are probably on shaky ground legally
-- even as an educator.
For more information, I suggest contacting the U.S. Copyright Office
in Washington, D.C. at 1-202-479-0700. If anyone has heard of any recent
rulings on this issue, I'd be happy to learn more.