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Copyright @ SSC: Media (Audio, Video, Etc.)


YouTube (and other web videos)

YouTube videos (and many other videos on the web) are restricted by user agreements which must be consulted and observed.

YouTube and copyright law specifically FORBID converting videos for use in PowerPoint or other class use, whether by faculty or students.
See the YouTube Terms for details, including the specific agreement for everyone using YouTube:

"You agree not to access User Submissions (defined below) or YouTube Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Website itself, the YouTube Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate."

Videos may only be linked, not converted, for use by faculty or students.

Using any method to change the file format of copyrighted digital material is forbidden by copyright law and there is NO Fair Use exemption.

Movies in the Classroom

The provision of the Copyright Act that governs the showing of movies in the classroom is Section 110. Under Section 110 of the Copyright Act, movies may be shown in class provided all of the following conditions are met:

  • The performance must be by instructors or by pupils and be directly related to the course’s curricular goals.
  • The performance is in connection with face-to-face teaching activities.
  • The entire audience is involved in the teaching activity.
  • The entire audience is in the same room or same general area.
  • The teaching activities are conducted by a non-profit education institution.
  • The performance takes place in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction.
  • The person responsible for the performance has no reason to believe that the DVD or videotape was unlawfully made.

Best Practices for Fair Use and Online Video

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video

Do's and Dont's

Media, e.g. pictures, videos, mp3s, movs, apvs, etc., are becoming more prevalent in the classroom, and you need to understand how copyright law affects your use and manipulation of these types.  The basic premise of copyright is that you are free to use the materials during classroom instruction, but you may not archive them, share them beyond the classroom, or convert between formats.  These are general premises that do have exceptions in certain situations.

Some things to think about are:

     Did you download the image from the Internet?

     Did you use screen capture software to copy a video image?

     Did you get an audio file from a friend via email?

     Did someone send you a copy of unreleased material, e.g. audio, video, etc.?

     Did you convert your favorite video from VHS to DVD?

Misuse of these types of materials is a potential violation of copyright.  It is important to remember that just because it lacks a copyright symbol or was found on the Internet does not mean it is in the public domain.  Many images both still and moving are copyrighted and appear on the Internet in violation of current copyright law.  Just because you found it on Google does not mean you can use it without permission.

Permissible Amounts

  • Illustrations or photographs:
    • No more than five images from one artist or photographer
    • No more than 10% or fifteen images, whichever is less, from a collection
  • Motion media:
    • Up to 10% of the total item or three minutes, whichever is less
  • Music, lyrics, and music video:
    • Up to 10% of the total work but no more than 30 seconds of the music or lyrics from an individual musical work
  • Numerical data sets:
    • Up to 10% or 2,500 fields or cell entries, whichever is less, of the total work
  • Copying a multimedia project:
    • There may be no more than two copies made of a project

NOTE: Please remember that the guidelines above only define the limits of fair use. If you are intending to use a project for commercial or non-educational purposes or are intending to duplicate and distribute the project beyond the scope permitted by these above guidelines, you must first obtain permission to do so from the copyright holder of each copyrighted work included within the project.

Images and Copyright

  • Assume all images are under copyright, even if the image is found online without a copyright symbol.
  • It is not sufficient to merely provide an acknowledgement for a photo or image if you want to use an image on your website or in an online class. Look for a “terms of use” or copyright information on the site and suggested credit information (i.e.
  • For classroom use, apply fair use rules.
  • For images you are putting online, size and resolution of image is a factor, i.e. small or thumbnail images.
  • It is best to use public domain material, material with allowable terms of use, or obtain written permission to use an image.

For a flow chart to help you see if you should or should not use an image, check out: Should I Use this Photograph?

Audio/Video & Copyright

Converting the file format of audio and video recordings is completely forbidden by copyright law at this time. In order to use any excerpts in class or classwork which do not come directly (during use) from the original purchased recording, written permission must be obtained from the copyright owner.

There is NO Fair Use exemption for this law.

The safest action is to play the DVD/CD/MP3/recording directly from the original purchased version

If you purchased a digital downloaded version, you need to play it from a legal source, such as the device you downloaded it to (your laptop or tablet) or a CD legally burned from it, or a flash (thumb) drive copy legally made. 

If you need something from the web, link to it (or embed a player, if that's an option) rather than download it and convert the format for your own use.


Performances (live, broadcast, or provided over a subscription service such as satellite radio) are still the property of the copyright owner, and subject to the same limitations as videorecordings. Recordings must be purchased unless written permission is obtained.

While the subject matter (classical music, ancient Greek dramas, etc.) may be out of copyright, the actual performance itself is by someone who holds the copyright on that performance and has the right to enforce limitations on use.

Example: Shakespeare's plays are out of copyright.  However, a video of "Hamlet" can be under copyright by the company that staged that performance.

Live performances often state in the printed program that recording devices are forbidden. "Bootleg" recordings of performances or transmissions are not legal for use in class.