I.P.

Tip of the Week - #5
Here's Your I.P. Tip of the Week, brought to you by your friendly Intellectual Property campus coordinator. The fifth Tip of the Week related to Intellectual Property (I.P.) deals with the showing of movies for educational purposes. A History instructor teaching a class on European History wants to show his class the movie “Braveheart.” The instructor purchased a DVD copy of the movie and viewed the movie at his home to make sure that the movie is appropriate for viewing by the students in the class. The instructor determines that the movie will be a great learning tool for the class but is dismayed to find that the classroom is only equipped with a VCR for playing VHS tapes. Since the instructor is unable to locate a DVD player for the classroom, he has the DVD movie copied to VHS tape. The movie is shown to his on-ground class and it generates a great deal of discussion among the students. It works so well that the instructor also decides to upload the movie from the DVD onto the web so that the online students can access the video via a hyperlink. Thus, the students in the online class are able to view the movie on their computers at their various remote locations and then discuss the movie in small electronic discussion groups. Q1. Was recording the DVD to VHS a violation of copyright law? Answer to Q1: Yes, it is illegal to copy the movie to a different medium. Copying a DVD to VHS tape without permission is a copyright violation. You are not allowed to change the format of a copyrighted work without permission from the copyright holder. The only exception to this rule is when a format is obsolete and then, only if the work is not available in a non-obsolete format. Example: You own a legal copy of an instructional video that is in the old Sony Betamax format. You are unable to find a Betamax player that still works so you find someone who has the professional equipment needed to convert the tape from Beta to VHS. This conversion from one format to another is legal, assuming that the instructional video was not already available in a non-obsolete format. Q2. Was showing the movie to the on-ground class a violation of copyright law?

Barry Dahl

I.P. Tips of the Week

May 2007

Answer to Q2: In this case, it is a violation of copyright to show the movie to the on-ground class but only because the VHS copy was illegally obtained. If the VHS copy had been legally obtained then the showing to the on-ground class would have also been legal. There are several guidelines in place for showings of this type: 1. The showing or displaying of the work is done in the classroom or similar place devoted to instruction. 2. The teacher and the students must be in the same location. 3. The audience must be composed of members of one class only. 4. The showing or displaying of the work must be part of systematic instruction, which does not include recreational or cultural programs. 5. The showing or displaying of the work must be the decision of the instructor, a student, or a guest lecturer. 6. In the case of videotape, film, or other audiovisual work, the work must have been lawfully obtained. Q3. Was showing the movie to the online class a violation of copyright law? Answer to Q3: Yes, making the entire movie available to the students in the online class is a violation of copyright law. The amount and type of work that may be broadcast or otherwise transmitted in a distance education setting are dictated by a recent revision to copyright law called the TEACH Act. According to the TEACH Act, the following types of work may be broadcast or otherwise transmitted: 1. the performance of a non-dramatic work (such as, broadcasting a political speech to a Political Science course would be acceptable); 2. the performance of a non-dramatic musical work (not sure what that means, it must be really lousy music, just kidding, I think); 3. reasonable and limited portions of other works such as films, videos, or dramatic musical works like opera, musicals, and music videos; and 4. other copyrighted works (such as still images) as long as the display of such works is in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session. Tune in again next week for your next Tip-o-the-week!! The Tip of the Week is adapted from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities "Understanding Intellectual Property: A Guide to Board Policy 3.26."

Barry Dahl

I.P. Tips of the Week

May 2007

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