Center for Learning, Experimentation, Application, and Research

How to Use Video

Last Updated: 06/12/2020 13:45

Initial Considerations

A closeup of a clapper board used in filmmakingWhenever considering use of a third party's video, remember the best policy is:

  • "When in doubt, link out!"

If linking is not an option, next ask yourself:

  • (1)  Is there a clear and direct pedagogical purpose to my intended use of this video in my lesson?
  • (2)  Has UNT licensed/purchased a legal copy of the video?

If the answer to both of the above questions is "yes," then you might be able to rely upon one of the copyright exceptions described below in more detail. Please read through the below FAQ to determine if one of the exceptions would apply to your circumstances.

Remember, you want to use copyrighted material in such a way as to not end up in a lawsuit. The music and film industries, in particular, are highly litigious. Sure, you may prevail in court, but at what cost? It is very possible to win a court case, but be seriously financially damaged in the process, so think carefully before using copyrighted material without permission.

Frequently Asked Questions about Video

Is there a difference between linking to an online video versus embedding it in my online course?

As of 11/8/2019, if the video is from YouTube or Vimeo, you may embed them directly in your course.  If the video is from TED/TEDx, you may ebed the video directly in your course, but it must be accompanied by a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives attribution caption with the video.

Please refrain from embedding content from Facebook, LinkedInInstagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, unless the material is pedagogically related and you can rely on one of the exception defenses.

I would like to show a video to my classes. One class is online and one is face-to-face. Is there a difference in what I can show?

For face-to-face ("on-ground") classes, 17 U.S.C. § 110(1) states that "performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction" is not an infringement of copyright. All the elements of this law must be satisfied, however. This includes the direct pedagogical purpose, the role of the person displaying the work, and the type of institution. Since UNT is a non-profit, accredited institution of higher education, one of its professors may display a Hollywood movie to a face-to-face class, if that display has a direct pedagogical function that is important to the lesson (e.g., a documentary in a history class, or a work of fiction to a film class).

For online classes, the rules are different. Under 17 U.S.C. § 110(2), "limited portions" (ideally 5% or less) of a video may be displayed (1) as part of a non-profit, accredited educational institution's course lesson. Other requirements include: (2) the institution or professor must legally own/license a copy of the video, (3) the video must be directly related to the lesson and have a clear pedagogical purpose, (4) it must be shared under the direction of the professor, (5) access to the video must be limited to enrolled students, and (6) the video must not be made available for download. The most significant question that comes up is: what do courts consider a "limited portion" of a video? This is determined on a case-by-case basis.  There are no clear-cut rules, but we have guidance on the portion requirement here at the copyright exceptions and defenses page under the third factor of fair use.

If you wish to display an entire film in a class, research whether the publisher of the video has a readily available licensing mechanism available. If so, your best option is to purchase and use that license.

I've tried to get permission for an older video, but can't locate the publisher or owner of the copyright. Is there any way I can still use portions of the video?

Yes, if you have completed due diligence in searching for the publisher by looking on these sites: Copyright Clearance Center; the Watch database; the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; and PLUS, and have not located the publisher, you may consider showing a limited portion of the film under one of the copyright exceptions listed above.

May I stream Netflix in my online course?

Educational screenings of select Netflix documentaries are permissible.  More details on this can be found on this Netflix help page.  In all other circumstances, the Netflix license specifically limits their content to individual use and so bars screening all other films in classrooms via their service.

I recorded a video of a TV interview last week and want to post a short segment of it in my online course. What are my options?

The same copyright exceptions may provide a safe harbor for your display of a limited portion of the interview, or you could contact the television broadcaster to see if they will offer a license to show the video.

I need to copy a VHS recording to DVD because we don't have the equipment to play the VHS. Is this permissible?

The UNT media library makes its own determination of such copying based on current law and UNT library policy, and it will only make transition copies of items the library owns. Please contact the UNT Media library for further guidance.

If I use Panopto to record the classroom, and if I don’t get Media Releases from the students, would that cause a copyright issue?

It depends who created the work. If a student solely created the work, this could be an issue.

How do I protect the video or lectures that I create myself?

Creative works, including videos, are automatically copyrighted the moment you create them. There is no registration requirement. However, one may register such works with the United States Copyright Office, if desired. If you want to make your work available to the public, consider licensing it with under Creative Commons license terms that conveys the specific uses available to subsequent users.

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