Skip to Main Content

Faculty Resources

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video

With regard to YouTube, if you believe the original uploader shared the video legally, then you can use the hyperlink or embed code provided by YouTube to share the video on Blackboard. 

The TEACH ACT of 2002 allows for the copying of "reasonable and limited portions" of audiovisual works. The copies need to be technologically restricted to enrolled students and cannot be retained past the duration of the class. An analog work can be digitized only when a digital version of the work is unavailable or protected by copyright measures. 

No digitization or copying of portions of work can interfere with copyright controls set in place by copyright owners. 

When possible, all multimedia files should be streamed rather than uploaded to avoid the download/saving of files by enrolled students. 

Please note that excerpts of all copyrighted video and other files, must only be uploaded as part of mediated instruction and not for entertainment purposes. 

Public Performance

"Under the United States Copyright Act, Title 17 of the United States Code, movies may be shown without a separate license in the home to “a normal circle of family and its social acquaintances” because such showings are not considered public. However, only the copyright holder has the right to “perform” a movie outside the sphere of family and friends.[1] A "public performance" is a showing of a motion picture or other program outside of the home. This legal requirement is the same whether the movie or program has been purchased, rented, or borrowed; buying the movie does not grant one the right to perform it in public.[2] Both for-profit organizations and non-profit institutions must secure a public performance license, regardless of whether an admission fee is charged.[3]"

If you want to host the public performance of a movie - outside of class - you must obtain a license to do so.  Most licenses can be obtained from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC), an "international, independent copyright licensing agency authorized by motion picture copyright holders, such as studios and producers, to issue the MPLC Umbrella License for the public performance of copyrighted motion pictures and other programs." 

Read Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) article on Wikipedia »

Showing Videos in Class

Copyright on videos and DVD's does not grant permission for public performance or public showing, unless the site where the video is used is properly licensed for copyright compliant exhibition.

That said, under the "Education Exemption" copyright movies may be exhibited in a college setting without a special license if the movie exhibition is:

(1) an "integral part of a class session" and is of "material assistance to the teaching content"

(2)  supervised by a teacher in a classroom

(3)  attended only by students enrolled in a registered class of an accredited nonprofit educational institution

(4)  lawfully made using a movie that has been legally produced and obtained through rental or purchase.

(5) the film cannot be shown as part of a simultaneous distance learning interaction

Read more from Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. »


If you show the movie in the course of “face-to-face teaching activities,” in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, and if the copy of the movie being performed is a lawful copy, you do not need to get a clearance or license - per 17 U.S.C. § 110(1)

If the movie is for entertainment purposes, you need to get a clearance or license for its performance.

View FAQ from the US Copyright Office »


According to the YouTube Terms of Service, as a YouTube content provider:

...the Content you submit must not include third-party intellectual property (such as copyrighted material) unless you have permission from that party or are otherwise legally entitled to do so. You are legally responsible for the Content you submit to the Service.

In addition, you cannot legally download, copy or in anyway pull content off the YouTube site; you cannot create physical derivatives of a YouTube video (i.e. burn to a DVD) or otherwise take posted content off-line.  

To allow users to share YouTube content on other websites YouTube provides a simple solution for embedding videos.  Click here to view instructions »

You can link-out to the video from Blackboard using its URL (in the 'Build Content' menu, choose 'Web Link' from the 'Item' list) or you can embed the video using the html code provided by YouTube. 


Assume that all music composed and published after 1926 is protected by copyright. As educators, you may be able to use samples (30 seconds or less) of a song and upload the music to Blackboard as part of asynchronous, mediated online instruction. The music can be uploaded to Blackboard so long as no technological controls applied by the copyright owner are circumvented in doing so.

To play music "publicly" or outside of a home setting, you may very well need a performance license. Organizations to include ASCAP and BMI offer "blanket licenses" that allow for playback and potentially recording of songs from their catalog.

Learn more at



It is not OK to copy published works from VHS to DVD.  Copyright law does not allow for the transfer of formats (e.g. tape to DVD) without permission of the copyright holder, EXCEPT for the limited provisions of Section 108 of the copyright law (see the Section 108 Working Group website for details).

Section 108 allows replacement copies to be made by libraries and archives in cases where a title is at physical risk of deterioration, or is in an obsolete format, AND the title is not available for replacement at fair market prices. There are strict stipulations about the use and users of such replacement copies; most notably, the copy must be used within the confines of the library only.

Individuals are prevented by copyright from making DVD copies of copyrighted tapes that they own. Use of such copies in the classroom is most definitely illegal.