Video Streaming and Peformanced Rights

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  • Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa, has begun to experiment with video-streaming in support of university coursework. We hope to do this both via our on-campus intranet and via our state-wide, fiber optic, interactive television system.

    We own, and will continue to purchase, video materials in digital format. We are not wholly clear, however, as to whether there are generally understood or industry-wide practices governing rights to stream video which was purchased without a specific license specification addressing our right to do this.

    When we have permitted use of a video cassette or DVD in a classroom, we have determined that we have performance rights for such materials. Does anyone have a clear understanding as to whether and when such performance rights permit us to stream the product content to locations on campus and/or to learning sites off campus?

    We have contacted several copyright holders and intermediaries, and have found mixed opinion and practice concerning our right to do this, whether justified by Fair Practice or the TEACH Act. Some copyright holders seem not to understand what video streaming is. Some understand, and want to charge a premium, retrospective to our purchase of a product, for the right to stream. Some take the position that we have the right to stream the product so long as we have purchased a copy with associated performance rights.

    I would be very interested in experiences, opinions, citations and so forth which will help us understand what is correct and/or common practice from a copyright perspective.

    Thank you.

    Dr. Herbert D. Safford
    Information Librarian & Bibliographer
    Rod Library
    University of Northern Iowa
    Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613

    (319) 273-3711
  • Performance rights are not required if the screenings are classroom related. In the analog world, this is very clear under Section 110(a). What is harder is Section 110(b) dealing with the "digital classroom" or digital transmission. If your institution has implemented TEACH (and all of its pre-requisites), then your use (if curriculum related) sounds okay.

    But most institutions have not implemented TEACH so they must rely on fair use. In this case, you have to go through the 4 factors (purpose, nature of the work, amount used, effect on the market).

    My assumption is that the use is non-profit educational and only enrolled students can gain access to the streaming (password protection?). Or the stream only goes to the classroom when requested by the teacher. Ibelieve that streaming video is a technology that is not readily "downloadable" by those that receive the transmission so further copying is unlikely. I also assume that the original copies of videos and DVDs are lawful copies. And that teachers need to show the entire video or DVD to meet their teaching objective.
    If all of this is true, it seems that fair use is a good argument.

    In general , you do need public performance rights for non-curriculum related screenings unless the screening is a fair use. One could argue that the screenings of "Eyes on the Prize" to public audiences in public libraries are fair because of the social nature of the screening and because folks are trying to publicize all of the permission problems associated with "Eyes."

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