Creating an "In-House" On-Demand System

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  • the school purchased a vhs/dvd combo retrieval system. With this system I was instructed by the vendor to copy my vhs tapes and dvds, load my marc records and we could create an in-house "on demand" system with our collection.

    My question is....a the beginning of most of the collection states a FBI warning "cannot be copied in its entirety". In the past we have purchased the tapes and shown the content and it would be no different with the retrieval system but I wanted to make sure that I was not in violation of copyright. I need your advice on this please.
  • So, there are a few issues here.

    One, vendors have a tendency to claim way more than they should be claiming. Showing digitized material from a retrieval system is actually different then showing the tapes, unfortunately. While it is technically possible to digitize material in this way, it's probably not legal to show it in some situations. The use of digital material in an educational setting usually relies on the TEACH Act and fair use.

    The TEACH act unfortunately only allows specific and limited of digitized material- the digital exemption for educational institutions is nowhere near as generous as the use of other types of material, like the VHS tapes or DVDs. Some vendors say they are "TEACH Act Compliant" or something of the sort, but that phrase doesn't necessarily mean anything, or it means that you'll still have to do all of the authentication/protection work yourself.
    Check out Georgia Harper's TEACH Act page for more specific information about the requirements.

    I really recommend finding out if your vendor is willing to indemnify your use. To go beyond the uses outlined in the TEACH Act, you'll need to make a fair use argument. I would document such an argument.

    On the other hand, the "FBI Warning" is almost meaningless. Any of those warnings, including the FBI warning, tend to overstate the case. They don't take into account legal exemptions like fair use, educational exemptions, libraries & archives, first sale, etc. If you're an educational institution, the most likely thing to trip you up along those lines are any kind of licenses you're a part of- however you might have acquired those VHS/DVD materials in the first place. Your institution may have limited your rights by agreeing to a license with the purchase.

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