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July 1996, Week 3


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Janet Staiger <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 19 Jul 1996 17:56:57 -0500
text/plain (53 lines)
Regarding the use of laserdiscs in classroom,
        Lincoln Stewart's reply to Mike Abbott suggested some question about
the legality of showing purchased laserdiscs or VHS tapes in classrooms.  My
understanding of the law is that that the Educators' exception to the
proprietors' rights in the Copyright Laws permits such screenings.  See
Section 110:  Limitations on Exclusive rights which says in part, "the
following are not infringements of copyright:  1) performance or display of
a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching
activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar
place devoted to instruction . . ." and so forth.  Jerome K. Miller in
"Using Copyrighted Videocassettes in Classrooms, Libraries, and Training
Centers" (1984) summarizes the "rules" (pp. 13-14):
        1)  . . . displays . . . must be made from legitimate copies,
including prerecorded videocassettes;
        2)  . . . displays must be part of a systematic course of
instruction and not for the entertainment, recreation or cultural value of
any part of the audience;
        3) . . . displays must be given by the instructors or pupils;
        4) . . . displays must be given in classrooms and other places
devoted to instruction;
        5) . . . displays must be part of the teaching activities of
nonprofit educational institutions; and
        6) Attendance is limited to the instructors, pupils, and guest
Other discussions of these issues since 1984 that I have reaffirm this
position:  Section 110 permits classroom-use, face-to-face teaching use of
copyrighted videocassettes--of course, under the very specific rules
indicated above.  (I'm not sure if the presence of popcorn would suggest
"entertainment" as in #2 above, however.)
Regarding the original issue, it is my understanding that making copies for
reserve for the library is not legal; however, some university audio-visual
libraries take these copies.  I would suggest to Mike Abbott checking with
your library and see if it will do this especially if your University's
lawyers are willing to back up the practices of the library.  Some lawyers
are liberal interpreters of copyright laws.
Good luck.  Janet Staiger, University of Texas at Austin
Janet Staiger
   Professor of Radio-Television-Film
   Director, College of Communications Senior Fellows Program
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712  USA
512-741-6653 (office)
512-329-5104 (home)
512-329-5144 (home fax)
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