Fair Use, Copyright, and Digital Rights Management

At every college and K-12 school there is a lot of misinformation about Educational Fair Use Copyright Law. Many times, the videos and tools we are using harmlessly in our classrooms fall under Fair Use. However, the assumption that showing a film in class for educational purposes falls under Fair Use is something that needs to be addressed.

Fair use is a legal principle that defines the limitations on the exclusive rights** of copyright holders. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance on the application of fair use principles by educators, scholars and students who develop multimedia projects using portions of copyrighted works under fair use rather than by seeking authorization for non-commercial educational uses. These guidelines apply only to fair use in the context of copyright and to no other rights.

There is no simple test to determine what is fair use. Section 107 of the Copyright Act*** sets forth the four fair use factors which should be considered in each instance, based on particular facts of a given case, to determine whether a use is a “fair use”: (1) the purpose and character of use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes, (2) the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. – Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia

Below are two YouTube playlists that walk you through some information on Copyright and Creative Commons licensing and Open Educational Resources. If you need to gain access to or need a film evaluated for it’s legal fair use in your classroom, please contact Audiovisual Services at the Standish Library at 783-2539. The library is specialized in being able to confirm that you have the rights to use film, print, audio, etc. in your classroom. Think of it as a citation of proper use much like you’d ask your students to provide a works cited page at the end of a formal essay.