Showing Videos in the Classroom

Online and face to face classrooms are treated differently by copyright law.  However, for both types of classroom setting you can:

  • use the work in accordance with an existing license.  The library negotiates licenses to online content that allow for classroom and reserves use.  Any material located in the library's collection may be used in your class.
  • use material shared with an open use or creative commons license. 
  • share a link of the material.
  • request permissions from the copyright owner.

Instructors of face to face classes may play a video of any duration, display pictures, play music and perform plays due to an exception in copyright law (U.S. Copyright Act Section 110(1)) as long as 1.) it is a regular part of instructional activities and directly related to teaching content and 2.) no admission charge is collected. Online classes are addressed in more detail in the following section.

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Showing Videos in Online Classes and the T.E.A.C.H. Act

The “Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act,” or “TEACH Act,” added to copyright law as Section 110(2) in 2002, outlines how educators may use copyrighted works in their online classes.  It includes a sizeable list of conditions that must all be satisfied in order to adhere to the law, including that the media must be lawfully acquired, part of systematic mediated instruction activities, restricted in access, that only portions of dramatic works can be shown, etc.

The USF Libraries created a checklist to help you determine if your use of videos in your distanced courses fits within the conditions of the TEACH Act.  Please feel free to contact your librarian with questions or for help with the checklist, or obtain legal advice from USF General Counsel.

If your use does not fit the T.E.A.C.H. Act you can still link to the material.  Linking to an image, video, or public website is not copying.  While you should still cite and give attribution to the owner of the website, it is not usually required to request permission to link to a publicly available website.

If you are using library licensed content, your use in your class has been pre-negotiated.  The USF library provides a robust collection of online videos and databases that can be located via the USF libraries’ catalog.  A list of the databases and collections can be found in our Images, Video and Audio guide:  Streaming Video linked below.

These materials may be linked to your Canvas course directly or by requesting the title for your online course reserves. 

Course Readings

The Fair Use Doctrine, or section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, allows reproduction of copyrighted works under certain circumstances like teaching, criticism and scholarship if, for each use, the four factors of fair use are considered in determining whether the use is fair.

USF policy on copyright suggests that, in a face to face classroom situation, a single copy for teaching purposes, including only a small amount of a copyrighted work (e.g. one chapter of a book), is usually acceptable.  Multiple copies provided to students should not exceed one copy per student, be used ‘in the moment’ (e.g. the inspiration and the decision to use the material must be close in time), not substitute for purchase of books by students, include a copyright notice, and not include consumable material like work book or test pages.

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