Video Screening & Performance Rights

Topics Covered

About Video Screening

Screening video recordings (what the law calls, “performance or display”) is among the rights reserved for copyright owners or holders. However, exemptions exist in Section 110 of U.S. Copyright Law for instructors who wish to screen videos under certain circumstances. In addition, public performance rights can be granted which allow for display in other venues.

Classroom Showings

Classroom showings are permitted when all of the following criteria are met:

• The class is taught at a non-profit educational institution;
• The film/audiovisual material is shown in a face-to-face teaching situation;
• The film/audiovisual material is related to the course;
• The film/audiovisual material is shown in a classroom or other designated teaching space; and
• The film/audiovisual material is acquired legally (e.g., purchased, rented, or borrowed from the library).

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Online Teaching (ANGEL)

Section 110 of U.S. Copyright Law allows transmission of some materials to support true distance or online instruction that replaces regular classroom instruction (whether live or completed at the student’s pace). Online showings, including showings made via ANGEL, are permitted when all of the following criteria are met:

• The class is taught at a non-profit educational institution;
• The film/audiovisual material is related to the course;
• The film/audiovisual material is acquired legally (e.g., purchased or licensed);
• The use of the film/audiovisual material is comparable to the amount that is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session, and is a "reasonable and limited portion of the material;
• The film/audiovisual material is displayed at the direction, or under the supervision of the instructor;
• The transmission or display is directly related to the teaching content;
• The transmission or display is solely available to the students officially enrolled in the course, to the extent technologically feasible;
• The educational institution has clear copyright policies and provide copyright guidelines to faculty, students and staff; and
• The educational institution applies reasonable technological measures to prevent viewers from retaining or downloading a copy of the work, or transmitting the work to others.
• The TEACH Act (Section 110(2) of the U.S. copyright law) further specifies conditions under which educators may perform or display copyrighted works in distance education or online environments, including using only "reasonable and limited portions" of works that do not qualify as nondramatic literary or musical works. Films and other audiovisual materials do not qualify as such works. Thus the ability to perform or display copyrighted works in distance education or online via the TEACH Act may be more limited than in classroom settings. Musselman Library's Online Video Reserves Policy has more information about making films available through Angel.

Section 1201 of U.S. Copyright Law prohibits the circumvention of encryption or other technological measures applied to copyrighted works, regardless of whether the intended use would be a fair use. An exemption was established by the Copyright Office for film studies professors to create compilations or clips of encrypted films, for their use in a classroom setting. This exemption is set to expire on October 27, 2009.

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Public Performance

To perform or display a work “publicly” means showing it at a place where it can be viewed by more than one’s immediate family and friends; whether or not everyone views it at the same place or at the same time.

Examples may include:
• Showing a film on Gburg TV
• Showing a film in the Joseph Theater
• Showing a film as a part of a campus event (College-sponsored, club-sponsored, etc.)

Private copies of films, whether purchased or rented do not carry public performance rights. Even films shown for free and for educational purposes (to educate the campus community about a political or other issue, for example) usually require you to obtain a Public Performance License if they are screened outside the context of a specific course.

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Obtaining Performance Rights

Musselman Library has purchased a number of video recordings which include public performance rights. This information is often found in the video’s record in MUSCAT. If you’re unsure, please contact Nancy Bernardi at (717) 337-7022.

  • Public Performance Rights may also be obtained directly from film vendors/distributors:

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Content in this page was used or adapted with permission from one or more institutions. Please see acknowledgements.