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Special Considerations - Video

Video requires special consideration because, in addition to the Fair Use allowances, Section 110(1) of the Copyright Law, Title 17, U.S. Code allows for "performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction."  LITS provides the services and resources below to facilitate course use.  Other uses may require public performance rights.  Repurposing video in the course of a project or assignment may also present special challenges.

Streaming Video

LITS subscribes to the Kanopy streaming service (as well as AVONDocuseek, and some smaller collections) which include a wide variety of documentaries, indie and foreign films, classics, and blockbuster movies.  Our Kanopy license allows for group viewing both inside and outside of classroom instruction.  Please note that commercial streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon, are for "home use" only.

LITS can also digitize and stream MHC library owned videos (from DVD or VHS) but, to comply with copyright, only if they are integral to the classroom experience of a course.  These streaming videos are only available to registered students in the course through the course's password protected Moodle site.  Faculty can find details at Place a Course Reserve.

In order to comply with copyright and Fair Use, LITS' policy on this is as follows:

  1. LITS digitizes video for active course use only.
  2. LITS restricts access to only the students in the class for the term of the class.
  3. Faculty must acknowledge that the item is integral to their class (and they must do this each term of re­use). If an item is only recommended viewing for the class, but not integral, we will put the DVD/VHS on reserve as an alternative to streaming.
  4. LITS puts the physical DVD/VHS item on library reserve for the duration of the streaming access.
  5. LITS aims to digitize only items that we own in the collection and does not interlibrary loan videos (including from the Five College Consortium) for the purpose of streaming.
  6. LITS licenses Kanopy, AVON, and Docuseek (& others) as sources of streaming video content and searches those before digitizing locally. If LITS does not own/already license a video needed for a class, we will make every attempt to purchase a copy. Faculty should request we purchase items that we do not already own and not available through one of the streaming services we subscribe to.
  7. If it is not possible for LITS to acquire the DVD/VHS or streaming rights to a title that is integral to a class, we will digitize a departmentally­owned or faculty-­owned title (as a matter of last resort) under the following conditions:
    • the copyright holder grants permission to the faculty member in writing
    • the department and/or faculty member is willing to have their DVD/VHS put on physical reserve for the duration of the streaming access


      the faculty member actively asserts that the departmentally­-owned/faculty­-owned item has been BOTH legally made AND legally acquired. LITS documents these assertions and keeps a record of all electronic communication surrounding the request, including documentation of our inability to locate an available copy for purchase.
  8. LITS does not stream instructional videos (videos that are intended for classroom sale).
  9. LITS documents exceptions we make to this good faith policy.

Section 108 of the U.S. Code includes provisions for libraries and archives to make replacement copies of published works in their collections if the work is "damaged, deteriorating, lost or stolen, or if the existing format in which the work is stored has become obsolete".  It is (unfortunately!) not yet legally settled as to whether VHS is truly "obsolete".  LITS will stream from VHS when the use meets our policy criteria, because we can control authentication and restrict further redistribution through Moodle.  We will not reformat VHS onto DVD.

Showing Videos on Campus

If you wish to show a video on campus (including both DVD and streaming), please see Public Performance Rights to determine whether you need permissions.

Reformatting Video for Personal Use

LITS does not reformat video for personal use.  If a faculty member wishes to have a video streamed for course use, please see above under Streaming Video.  LITS can stream from either DVD or VHS, so long as the use is covered by our policy above.

If you wish to have video reformatted for personal use (e.g. convert your VHS to DVD), there is equipment in the Media Teaching Area at the MEWS for you to do this work.  If you do not yourself own the copyright to the video, you will need to consider your situation. 

  • Using clips for the purposes of criticism and commentary is widely considered a Fair Use.
  • The FAQ from the Electronic Frontier Foundation says this:  "Although the legal basis is not completely settled, many lawyers believe that the following (and many other uses) are also fair uses:
    • Space-shifting or format-shifting - that is, taking content you own in one format and putting it into another format, for personal, non-commercial use. For instance, "ripping" an audio CD (that is, making an MP3-format version of an audio CD that you already own) is considered fair use by many lawyers, based on the 1984 Betamax decision and the 1999 Rio MP3 player decision (RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia, 180 F. 3d 1072, 1079, 9th Circ. 1999.)
    • Making a personal back-up copy of content you own - for instance, burning a copy of an audio CD you own."
  • You can always try to secure permissions first. 

Section 108 of the U.S. Code includes provisions for libraries and archives to make replacement copies of published works in their collections if the work is "damaged, deteriorating, lost or stolen, or if the existing format in which the work is stored has become obsolete".  It is both (a) not yet legally settled as to whether VHS is truly "obsolete" and (b) Section 108 covers reformatting for library collections, not for individuals.  LITS, therefore, cannot reformat materials that are not part of our collections.  You will need to assess your situation and make your own decisions. 

For more information, see The Definitive Guide to the VHS Apocalypse for the College of Charleston: Copyright and Fair Use.

Legal Sources for Multimedia Projects

If you wish to use video in your coursework or project, please see Legal Sources for Multimedia Projects Guide. This guide offers resources to assist in locating materials in public domain or under Creative Commons licensing.  Students working on multimedia projects are encouraged to use copyright-free materials or apply Fair Use principles to copyrighted materials.  It is your responsibility to use these materials wisely and follow the law.

MHC Accessibility Barriers Form