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Copyright Information for Audiovisual Materials

An AV work is composed of sound, sequence of pictures or both. AV works include motion pictures, videos, audiocassettes, CDs, DVDs, etc. AV should not be confused with multimedia which may include several types of AV materials, but has different guidelines.

When discussing AV works, we are talking about Performance and Display rights as well as Fair Use.

The 1976 Copyright Act provided for performance and display(Section 110) in face-to-face teaching situations only. Performance and display to distance students were not allowed under this law unless permission was given or performance rights were licensed with the AV item. Many videos today allow performance rights in the purchase and the library includes this whenever possible. If performance rights are covered under a purchase agreement, then fair use or the TEACH Act cannot be applied; a licensing agreement takes precedence. Transmission over a closed-circuit television within the same building may be permissible. Section 110(2) was amended by the TEACH Act in 2002 to allow transmission of materials to distance education students.

Guidelines for AV Materials

ALL of the following five conditions must be met for a use to fall under Fair Use. If all five are met, then public performance permission is not required, but if the answer to even one is no, then permission must be received.

  • The display or performance must be in a non-profit educational institution (no problem here)
  • The performance must be by and for students and/or teachers in a class for educational purposes (must related in a timely manner to the lesson at hand for the class only)
  • The performance must take place in a classroom or other instructional setting (no class trips, cafeterias, etc.
  • It is a face-to-face teaching situation (no distance ed or broadcasts)
  • The media must be legally acquired (no copying is allowed of audio visual materials. Can be rented, borrowed, owned or taped off television within the guidelines for on-air taping)

Some other considerations when performing or displaying AV:

  • Music may be in the public domain, but the performance and arrangement can be copyrighted
  • Synch rights must be obtained for background music
  • No admission may be charged in a school setting (band concerts). Performance may be fair use, but a copy of the actual print music must be legally obtained for each student and participant.
  • There may be several copyright holders, i.e. on music you may have a composer, performer, producer, arranger, publisher, record label, etc.
  • Extracurricular activities and entertainment purposes do not fall under Fair Use.
  • You cannot convert an AV work to another format except under certain conditions when the hardware is obsolete or an analog work is not available in digital format.

Off-air Video Taping

  • Tapes must be destroyed within 45 days unless permission is obtained
  • Only nonprofit educational institutions may use them
  • Only programs transmitted for reception by the general public without charge may be used (no pay channels or satellite transmissions)
  • Can be used twice in the 45 days retention period
  • May not be done regularly and may not be altered

Any licensing agreements made with a broadcasting system will contain the restrictions and permissions for the parties involved.