ERIC Number: EJ859426
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Oct-1
Reference Count: 0
Copyright and the DVD Dilemma
Koss, Judith C.
School Library Journal, v55 n10 p34-36 Oct 2009
Is it legal to copy a DVD onto a school district's server? As general counsel for a company that publishes and distributes educational videos and sells video-on-demand servers that digitally deliver them to the classroom, the author gets that question from educators all the time. And the answer is: it depends. If one is dealing with copyrighted works, things can get complicated, but this article starts with what a media specialist can legally do. It's fine to copy a DVD (or for that matter, a VHS tape) onto one's server if his district or school has produced and owns the content, including the underlying elements like text, music, illustrations, photographs, and video footage that appear in the recording. He will also want to make sure the content doesn't violate an individual's right to privacy or publicity or defame them or their organization in any way. It's also permissible to use content that's in the public domain, or works for which no copyright holder can be found (commonly referred to as "orphaned works"). Care should be exercised in the case of suspected orphaned works to ensure that what one intends to use truly has no copyright holder. It's also legal to upload a copy of a DVD to a network that consists of 100 percent student-created content (don't forget to get parental permission). And, of course, it's clear sailing if one's district has obtained a license from the appropriate copyright holder that specifically permits one's school district to copy the DVD onto its server. But what if a DVD doesn't fit conveniently into any of these categories? That's where the fair-use doctrine may come in handy. Fair use, an affirmative defense to copyright infringement covered under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, permits educators to use copyrighted materials in certain ways and under specified conditions. To determine if one's intended use is permitted under the fair-use doctrine, it's necessary to weigh the following four factors: (1) The purpose and character of the use; (2) The nature of the work; (3) The amount of the work being used; and (4) The effect of the use on the potential market. Finally, it's important to remember that copyright holders have a number of exclusive rights, which include the right to reproduce, distribute, and publicly perform a copyrighted work. Unfortunately for schools, there are varying interpretations of the copyright law, which makes it difficult to apply. And critics of the fair-use doctrine often say it's vague and difficult to navigate. That's why it's so important for media specialists to stay on top of copyright issues and to take the lead in crafting clear, well-informed policies.
Descriptors: Copyrights, Reprography, Video Technology, Use Studies, School Libraries, Information Policy, Access to Information
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A