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Copyright Information

Copyright Law
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A librarian or teacher may also make multiple copies, not to exceed one per pupil, for classroom use of:

  • a complete poem of less than 250 words and printed on not more than two pages;
  • an excerpt of less than 250 words from a longer poem;
  • a story, essay, or article of less than 2,500 words;
  • one illustration (chart, graph, picture, diagram, cartoon, etc.) from a book or periodical; up to 10% of a unit of music for academic purposes other than performance.

A librarian or teacher may also copy a work, such as a score of music, in an emergency if one cannot be purchased in time, or may display a purchased copy of a copyright work through an opaque projector or document camera.

“Home Use Only” and/or rented Videotapes

A librarian or teacher may show “home use only” or commercially rented videotapes if the following criteria are met:

  • the performance must take place in a classroom or other place of instruction in a non-profit educational institution;
  • the performance must be directed by students or teachers of the institution;
  • the performance must be in the course of face-to-face teaching activities;
  • the film or video must be made from a copy of the work which was legally made or acquired.

A librarian or teacher may not do the following:

  • copy from “consumable” works such as standardized tests, answer sheets, or class workbooks;
  • copy commercial videotapes, audiotapes, or other like formats;
  • copy in order to create anthologies or to substitute for them;
  • copy on direction from higher authority;
  • copy to substitute for the purchase of books, periodicals, and music;
  • copy the same item from term to term without gaining permission;
  • copy more than one short work or two excerpts from one author’s work in a term;
  • make multiple copies more than nine times in the same class term;
  • make copies of music or lyrics for performance of any kind in the classroom or outside it; show a copyrighted video tape for entertainment purposes;
  • copy protected materials without inclusion of a notice of copyright

Guidelines for Recording TV Broadcasts

The guidelines provided were read into the Congressional Record on October 13, 1981. They are the product of a two and one-half year study by a combined committee representing all elements of the media and educational communities. Each school is encouraged to set up appropriate procedures to assure that off-air recordings are used according to the guidelines.

  • The guidelines will apply to off-air recording only by non-profit educational institutions.
  • Such an institution may record a broadcast program off-air at the same time it is broadcast and retain it for no longer than 45 calendar days following the date of the broadcast, after which it must be erased or otherwise immediately destroyed. A “broadcast program” is defined as any TV program transmitted by any television station for reception by the general public at no charge, and this definition includes simultaneous re-transmission of such program by cable companies.
  • Individual teachers may use these off-air recordings only once in the course of relevant teaching activities, and may repeat them once if instruction reinforcement is necessary. The playback may take place in just one classroom building or similar place devoted to instruction, in building clusters, on entire campuses, or in the home when the student is receiving formalized instruction there, but it must take place during the first ten consecutive school days of the 45-calendar-day retention period. “School days” is defined to mean days that schools are in session, not including weekends, holidays, vacations, examination periods, or other times when interruptions in regular instructional classes have been scheduled during the 45-calendar-day retention period.
  • Off-air recording may be done only when specifically requested and used by an individual teacher; it may not be done in anticipation that the recording will be used at some point during the retention period. No program may be recorded more than once at the request of the same teacher, no matter how many times that particular program is broadcast.
  • Under these guidelines, a limited number of copies may be produced of each program recorded off-air if the legitimate instructional needs of teachers require it, but each copy must be used in accordance with the provisions in the guidelines.
  • After the first ten consecutive school days, each off-air recording may be used only by teachers (up to the 45-day limit) and only evaluation purposes to determine whether to include it in the curriculum. It may not be exhibited to students or for any other non-evaluation purpose without authorization.
  • A teacher does not have to use the total program, but the recording may not be altered in any way e.g., by editing, nor may two or more recordings be merged or combined, either physically or electronically.
  • All copies of a program recorded off-air must include the copyright notice as it appeared when the program was broadcast.
  • Educational institutions are expected to set up appropriate procedures to assure that off-air recordings are used according to these guidelines.

Damages of $250.00 to $10,000.00 for each infringement must be awarded if a court finds that a copyright has been infringed.

The impact of new technology on copyright law is profound and still evolving. The concept of intellectual property rights is a daily concern for school library media specialists as they try to provide video and computer resources for teachers and students on their campuses. It is recommended that each library have on hand at least one guide to assist in making appropriate copyright decisions. One such guide with excellent reviews is:

Simpson, Carol Mann: Copyright For Schools: A Practical Guide, 3rd Edition. Worthington (Ohio): Linworth Publishing, Inc., 2001.