DVD Use in Classroom

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  • Hello,

    I have a question about using personal copies of DVD's in a classroom. I have always been told that faculty members can only show DVD's that have been purchased by the institution because the public performance rights have been purchased which allows the faculty member to show the film to students in a face-to-face class. Recently a faculty member has asked if he can show his DVD of a film that he purchased to a class. This is what he sent to us:

    Videotapes, CDs, and DVDs
    Videotapes, CDs, and DVDs are subject to all the rights of printed materials, including the
    rights of reproduction, distribution, public performance, and display. The doctrine of “fair use” also
    applies, that is, whether it is legal to reproduce, perform, etc. a copyrighted work depends of the
    purpose of the use, the nature of the work, the amount of the work used, and the effect use has on the
    market of the work.

    In-Classroom Use
    In-classroom use of a copyrighted videotape (including those marked for home use only) is
    permissible under the following conditions:
    1. The performance must be by instructors (including guest lecturers) or by pupils; and
    2. The performance is in connection with face-to- face teaching activities; and
    3. The entire audience is involved in the teaching activity; and
    4. The entire audience is in the same room or same general area; and
    5. The teaching activities are conducted by a non-profit educational institution; and
    6. The performance takes place in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, such as a
    school library, gym, auditorium, or workshop; and
    7. The videotape is lawfully made; the person responsible had no reason to believe that the
    videotape was unlawfully made.

    Is this okay?? I just want to doublecheck as we have always informed faculty members that the film has to have public performance rights.
    Thanks for your help!
  • The rules your professor sent are correct, perhaps even a little too strict. They largely reflect the actual language of the face-to-face teaching exception for performances, which is found in section 110(1) of the copyright act. Only point 3 seems to state something that is not clearly in the law. Most importantly, the professor is correct that any lawfully made copy can be performed in a face-to-face teaching activity without public performance rights. It does not have to have been purchased by the institution, or even purchased at all -- a borrowed copy, such as from Netflix, would be fine.

    By the way, I strongly doubt that all of the videos purchased by your library have public performance rights. Copies with PPR usually run around $300, and it is a rare institution that can afford a whole collection at that cost. But in any case, public performance rights are not necessary for showings in a face-to-face classroom as described in your seven points.

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