Answered By: Emily Vinson
Last Updated: Oct 25, 2021     Views: 42

Copyright law allows for instructors to use audio and visual materials in digital teaching environments, but you must be aware of exceptions and limitations to these allowances.


Streaming video: Providing access to these videos through Blackboard may be acceptable, but it will depend on the terms of the license or contract with the vendor from whom you obtained access to these materials. The terms of a license for electronic resources supersede any legal rights around copyright. We advise that you consult the license and confer with the vendors as necessary to determine whether the license terms permit you to provide their streaming video content via Blackboard.

DVD and VHS: Whether these materials can be displayed to students via Blackboard will depend largely on technical issues. By the terms of the TEACH Act, instructors are permitted to display copyrighted materials to students for instruction, as they would be allowed in the classroom under copyright law if the following conditions are met:

1.              Transmission is limited to students enrolled in the course (providing them within a Blackboard course meets this requirement).

2.              The work being used is "directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission."

3.              The display is performed as analogously as possible to how it would be done in a classroom setting: so that it is part of the instruction, not an independent side activity.

4.              Any transient copy made for display is retained no longer than reasonably necessary for transmission (e.g., a digital copy of the film is left up on Blackboard no longer than it takes all the students to view and use it, and then fully deleted).

5.              Faculty and students in the course are provided with copyright information about their use. Faculty are advised of their responsibilities in showing the film, students are advised that they may not circumvent protections, make copies, or redistribute the film.

6.              Any copies shown are not, to the instructor's knowledge, made illegally. This includes ensuring that any digital rights management (DRM) protections of the original content were not circumvented in order to create a copy for transmission.

The final point here may be most relevant for VHS or DVD content. If the faculty member has the means to stream a performance of a DVD or VHS film in its collection through Blackboard, so that no copy of the content is made, this use should be analogous enough to classroom performance to avoid infringement under the TEACH Act. However, if a digital copy would need to be made and uploaded to Blackboard, additional risks would be introduced. Most modern DVDs include some form of DRM protection, and any attempt to copy the contents of a disc with these protections would constitute circumvention and be illegal. VHS cassettes generally predate the inclusion of DRM technologies and might be possible to transmute to digital copies legally, but the copy would have to be managed with extreme care and removed as soon as possible to be in compliance with the TEACH Act.

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