fair use of videos

← Return to forum

  • Is there a specific section of the copyright law that addresses using parts of commercially produced videos to produce a new one (by a government agency)?
  • Usually, at the beginning of any commercially-produced video is a message about copyright infringement, stating how and where they video can be shown, etc. Read each one before your proceed. When in doubt contact the producer. Simply owning the commercially-produced video copy does not give you the right to alter it. Personally, I would never do this, because my interpretation of copyright law is that you cannot take parts of others' property to create a new piece of property and call it your own, whether you are a government entity or not....unless you have permission. As the 'copyright person' in the media department at our college, my answer to any of our faculty asking such a question would be, "No." We would not do this for them on College equipment. If they choose to do it at home, on private equipment, and show it in their classes, it is hard to monitor. If anyone knows how this can be done, please answer; I'll have a line of staff at my door and I will be working 24 hours a day on their projects !!
  • I would take some issue with the suggestion that *no* 'remixing' be allowed... Using short segments of a video in a way that you believe would qualify as fair use sounds fine, in my (admittedly amateur and oftentimes not-so-conservative) opinion. You might quote a book in a new work, a similar 'quoting' of video in a new work shouldn't be much different. So, take a look at your proposed uses, and see if you feel they would fall under fair use, and if so live it up :)

    Of course, the MPAA may be have a dramatically different opinion, and they've got enough money to make such a point if they feel like it. So, as Lessig might say, exercising your fair use rights in this situation might be exercising your 'rights to hire a lawyer.' How much of a risk you're willing to undertake is up to you...
  • Susane is talking about a government agency using commercial videos. Is this government agency eligible to claim Fair Use? I think the determination lies in the end result -- how will the new video be used, how many times, who will view it, will there be a charge, will it be sold, etc. if they are planning on utilizing Fair Use Guidelines. We recently posed a similiar question to the CODE consortium we belong to, and the answer was, "No, except under certain licensing agreements." I think PBS has the same type of agreement for its members.
  • I'm fairly confident that anyone, gov't agency included, can claim fair use. I think they would have to be clear on any work they produced to point out that the clips used are copyrighted by company x, etc, but they ought to be able to go ahead... As for determining if it's a fair use, the four factors would have to be applied... I think that the MPAA, etc, would prefer people feel they have to ask permission for everything they do, but fair use still does apply to videos... There's a lot of uses they would prefer to be paid for that might well be fine under fair use - they just have a rather large stick to back up threats with. Anyone else have thoughts?
  • Anyone in the US can claim fair use, government agency or not. You can use others' creations without their permission or if it falls under the fair use guidelines.

    The opening statement and FBI warning in front of a video may not be entirely accurate depending on the wording of the statement. If it states "all uses are prohibited," the distributers/publishers/authors are probably not being entirely forthcoming. Copyright law grants specific exceptions for fair use. You do have to make sure you fall under the fair use guidelines, though.

    Now, there are other things that could limit your use besides copyright law, fair or not- if you have a contract with the originating organization or have other licensing agreements with them, that's something else to look at before using the content. Many contracts specifically deny the licensee any reproduction rights.

    The threat of a lawsuit it what really adds cost to your actions. Companies have used the potential lawsuits as an effective club to bludgeon legitimate uses. The originating organization can sue you. At that point, many organizers either capitulate or allow the courts to determine whether or not the usage is fair use.

    "...you cannot take parts of others' property to create a new piece of property and call it your own, whether you are a government entity or not....unless you have permission."

    Not entirely correct, because fair use does allow some use of copyrighted material. Educational institutions, in particular, have more leeway with this use because fair use specifically says that copying "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright" (USC Title 17 Sec. 107).

    Keep in mind, IANAL. ^_^
  • Good comment (I'm new to the forum, although not to fretting about copyright issues).

    It's not just MPAA that tends to overstate protection and understate fair use.

    Look at the back-of-title-page statement on most books: You'll see "No part of this book may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher." That pretty much claims that fair use doesn't exist.

    (I should note that ALA Editions gets it right.)

    Now, if someone could clarify fair use plausibility when it comes to song lyrics, where it seems that even using five words is problematic...(oops, that's a different topic)
  • I recently asked permission for an instructor of an online course to stream portions of some PBS video series. We had the public performance videos and had been using them in a brick and mortar classroom.

    We felt that a virtual classroom would be no different with the exception of the requirement that we load the video onto a server for the streaming part. We would, of course, remove the video clips after the virtual classroom was finished viewing. We were initially refused but we brought up the "Teach Act" which does give us fair use of videos in a classroom. We use Blackboard which requires that students log on with ID's and passwords so access would be limited to the class of students and no others (just like an on campus class). The representative was given the URL to look up so that they could read the text for themselves. Finally they agreed. In their view fair use was 2-3 minutes and no more of each film in the series.

    Another faculty member has now asked to use several videos, in their entirety, in her virtual classroom. Again we own the public performance rights to these videos and use them in our on campus classes but not only is she asking for the entire film but in this case some of the titles are commercial Hollywood films! What a can of worms. Faculty can't understand why, if they can show the film in their "on campus" classrooms they can't do the same in their virtual classrooms. And frankly I can't either. I realize that legally one can't change the format of the original but if the format is already a digital DVD what harm does a temporary loading of the material on to a server do? We are allowed to make back up security copies of VHS tapes. Isn't this similar? Producers and originators need to move into the next evolutionary level of modern education. There are many students who don't come to campus for their classes but are students all the same.

    Has anyone else dealt with this challenge? Am I ignorant of some fair use right that allows my faculty to screen videos via streaming video into the home computers of their home-based students? Thanks.
  • IANAL disclaimer. I have a little bit of experience with this type of problem. I occasionally teach an undergraduate online course. Although copyright law was once described as media-neutral, it's fairly clear that, logically or not, the law has different standards for analog and digital works. One important thing to note is that you can make a fair use claim whether or not you take advantage of the TEACH act. The TEACH act didn't actually change fair use- it just gives educators additional options. If you don't meet the TEACH act standards, then you can still claim fair use. The TEACH act has several requirements, but doesn't make face to face and DE equal, and does not seem to play well with asyncronous distance education. The TEACH act specifically allows for storage of content, provided you meet the requirements (including limited access and technological controls of storage and dissemination). However, the TEACH act only allows audiovidual works to be shown in "reasonable and limited portions." The "reasonable and limited" aspect would appear problematic in this instance. This appears to be one area of the law that specifically differentiates between face to face and distance education. Another thing to note is that the publishers cannot actually tell you that 2-3 minutes is fair use and more than that is not fair use, although going by their requests would theoretically make them less likely to sue. However, I would think that you have a fair use argument regardless if it falls under the TEACH Act if the live classroom session would ordinarily show the same thing. I'd ask legal counsel if you can. ^_^
    I realize that legally one can't change the format of the original but if the format is already a digital DVD what harm does a temporary loading of the material on to a server do? We are allowed to make back up security copies of VHS tapes. Isn't this similar?
    We are allowed to make back up copies of VHS tapes, and we probably can make backup copies of DVDs (as long as we don't circumvent access), but transmission/performance is a whole other set of rules.

Posting to the forum is only available to users who are logged in.

← Return to forum