Podcasts and copyright

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  • Our Faculty Development Center is doing some workshops on podcasting lectures, and some questions about copyright are arising.
    1. Is copyright violated if a professor uses copyright material in the classroom and then creates a (video/audio) and distributes the material over the web?
    2. Are special permissions needed to podcast copyright content when recording a classroom lecture?
    3. How does this apply to music? If a professor uses an audio clip and it is recorded as a podcast, can this be broadcasted and posted?
    4. How does this apply to video? If a professor uses a video clip in the classroom and remains within the fair use guidelines…can this be posted as a podcast?
    Thanks for any advice you may have on this.
  • There are copyright issues regarding podcasting in or for the classroom.

    Besides copyright, you should also note that anything containing student information might be subject to FERPA or other privacy laws, if students participate in the classroom.

    Getting to copyright,

    1) Possibly. If a professor uses copyright classroom in a face to face setting in the classroom, and they are using regular physical materials, then there is a copyright exemption for this use. If a professor uses digital materials, than that exemption is no longer available unless it meets the criteria of the TEACH Act. If that material is distributed over the web, then for the educational exemptions the TEACH act criteria must also be met (which means that podcasting is out). If it is available to everyone on the web, and not just the class, or if the items are saved for asyncronous use, even for that class, then the professor will probably need to rely on fair use.

    2) Possibly. It depends on your university. If in your university, the faculty own their intellectual property, then you will need the faculty member's permission. If they use copyrighted material in their course that is not theirs, including student materials, then they may need permission from the copyright holders as well (if it doesn't meet fair use).

    3) Music gets a bit trickier. An earlier discussion, here, talks about some of the problems associated with music:

    4) Video is about the same as other copyrighted material that's not music. Fair use is determined on a case by case basis. If a professor uses a video clip in the classroom and it's determined fair use, you still have to do a different fair use evaluation for posting to the web as a podcast. They are two separate events. Because podcasting has a wider audience, it is less likely to be a fair use. You'd have to go through a fair use evaluation.
  • Elizabeth,

    I agree with COvalle's analysis. It was a little unclear to me reading your original message whether you intend to make podcasts universally available (unrestricted worldwide) or just to students in the course. I think that you're talking universally available, but if these are restricted, the analysis would probably change significantly.

    I have a slightly different take on the TEACH Act criteria, which is that TEACH does nothing to abridge or otherwise minimize your ability to apply a fair use argument, regardless of the format of the material. Since there are a number of criteria the institution must meet in order for TEACH to apply, it is possible that you (like me) do not have the option to benefit from it. But as COvalle has stated, your local interpretation of fair use is key to evaluating each of your questions.

  • Apologies if I seemed to imply that your fair use argument would be impacted by the TEACH Act criteria- that was not my intention. I meant that your ability to use the educational exemption is affected by the TEACH Act criteria.

    Georgia Harper's page on the TEACH Act:

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