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Fair use and copyright considerations for video in online and blended courses

This article discusses fair use and copyright considerations for video in online and blended courses.
Copyright law applies to nearly all creative and intellectual works, including video and films. However, there are provisions for “fair use” of a copyrighted works as outlined in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. This provision describes four factors to be considered when determining fair use. The fair use statute favors nonprofit, educational purposes over commercial purposes. However, in order to comply with fair use you must consider all four factors, and not simply rely on that fact that you teach at a university.
Factor 1: The purpose and character of the use
The courts favor the use of materials that have a direct relationship to the educational objectives of your course. You should choose video material carefully; selecting content that can be used by your students to successfully complete the course assignment. It is important to directly align the content you require with the learning outcomes for each assignment. Once you have determined what you want your students to accomplish in order to achieve the learning outcomes, you can determine which piece of content and how much is required to successfully complete the assignment. This concept is known as “backward design” (Wiggins & McTighe “Learning by Design” 1998, 2006). To learn more about backward design, contact CETL.

Related to “the purpose and character of the use,” court rulings favor material that has been “transformed,” not merely reproduced. Fair use is more likely to be applicable when the copyrighted work has been modified into something new or when it can be used for a new purpose. In terms of video course materials, this could include smaller portions of a film that have been edited and/or combined with other media in order to create video content that is specific to the learning objective of your course. 

The addition of in-video quizzing is a great way to transform a video clip to meet the specific learning goals for your course. In-video quizzing also provides students with instant feedback on their performance and promotes student engagement with the materials.
In-video quizzing refers to quizzes that are embedded directly within video content, using the campus-supported tool My Media. As students are watching a video lecture, for example, at intervals determined by the instructor, the video will pause and ask the student to respond to a multiple-choice, true-false, or short answer question. Multiple-choice and true-false questions are automatically graded, and in-video quizzes can be set up for scores to be sent automatically to the Canvas grade book. One advantage of in-video quizzes is that students answer questions directly within the context of the video and can receive real-time feedback closely linked to the content they are viewing. In other words, there is little delay between students viewing the content, applying their understanding of the content, and getting feedback about their understanding. For instructors who have incorporated active learning exercises into their classroom lectures, in-video quizzing may offer similar ways to prompt students to actively engage with lecture content, even as that content is being delivered asynchronously online.
Factor 2: The nature of the copyrighted work
Fair use is more aptly applied to factual, non-fiction, or news-related content. For this reason, documentary films, that connect with your learning objectives, are a better option than commercial films of fiction. If you feel that a commercial film provides an example that accurately illustrates a concept in your course, it is important that you do not digitize or distribute the entire film, but only use the portion that applies to the learning goals.
Factor 3: The amount of the portion used
The amount of the work placed online should relate directly to the educational objectives of the course assignment. In other words, you should ONLY use the section of the video that is necessary for your students to complete the assignment. Any scenes or sections of a film that does not have a direct relationship to the course assignment should be removed before distributing to your students. Capturing and distributing entire films is NOT recommended.
Factor 4: The effect of the use upon the potential market
Essentially, this means that you are more likely to be in violation of fair use if you, your students, or someone with access to the media, could sell the copyrighted work for a profit. In terms of video content, clips or modified materials are less likely to have an adverse market effect. In contrast, by supplying a copy of an entire film to your students, you are negatively impacting potential markets for those works.
In addition, if you distribute videos through a password protected environment, like My Media inside Canvas, only the student in your course can view the copyrighted work. If you distribute the video outside of the password protected environment, for example, as a publicly available video on YouTube, this could have a substantial impact on the market value of the work.
When considering all four factors, it is best to use a short section of a film or TV show which has been chosen to supply students with the information necessary to complete the assignment successfully.


Keywordscopyright video   Doc ID120401
OwnerAmy M.GroupCETL
Created2022-08-09 10:47:10Updated2022-08-16 12:34:51
SitesUW-Milwaukee Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
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