A college has videos of faculty giving presentations, conducting review lectures, and demonstrating different techniques.

Who owns the copyright in these videos? What happens when the faculty member leaves the institution? May the library duplicate them for other institutions?

The ownership of the videos depends on whether the institution has a copyright ownership policy. Normally, the video (the physical object) would belong to the institution, but, the faculty member may own the rights in the presentation that is captured on the video. The tradition in higher education in the United States is that faculty members own the copyrights in their works. When the taping was done, if it was done correctly, the faculty member was asked to sign a release form to permit the video recording in the first place. That form may also have assigned all or some of the rights to the institution. Most of these forms also specify the uses that the college may make of the video.

In the absence of a signed agreement, what can then be done with the video depends entirely on the ownership policy. If the institution owns the copyright in the video of the faculty presentation, it is the copyright holder and may therefore duplicate the videos if it so desires and share copies with other institutions. If the faculty member owns the copyright, then any duplication and distribution requires his or her permission.

Many copyright ownership policies spell out the rights of both the faculty member and the institution when the faculty member leaves the institution. In the absence of a policy, if the faculty member holds the copyright, then the video could continue to be used locally within the institution, but it could not be duplicated without permission.

A faculty member at the college has videotaped a performance of all of the plays performed at the school over the past few years. He uses these videotapes in his classes and has recently offered to donate them to the library.

Assume that the college does obtain the rights to perform these plays publicly. The performance rights normally do not include the right to video record the performance, although the school may be able to obtain a license for this. The copyright holder likely would be concerned about how the video was going to be used. For example, if the purpose of the video is to permit the drama faculty to critique the performance, then making the video may be permitted. Using the videos for showing to classes raises other issues, and copyright holders may be far less likely to grant permission for this.

The Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music grant permission for faculty to make a single recording of student music performances for purposes of critique, but there is nothing similar for dramatic works.

PowerPoint Viewer is a free download. A librarian wants to put the program on a CD and distribute it at no charge. Does it require permission to do so?

Yes, permission is required. Only the copyright holder has the right to distribute a work, whether in analog copies or by permitting downloads, and regardless of whether or not there is a charge for the work. Others may not distribute the work absent permission from the owner. The fact that the PowerPoint Viewer is a free download does not change its status as a copyrighted work. As an alternative, the librarian could provide the link so that others could download their own copies.

Do publishers have the right to grant or deny permission to libraries to circulate CD products? Publishers in the legal arena seem to assume that they have the right to specify how the products are used after library purchase. Has the law addressed this issue?

Publishers generally do not have the right to specify how libraries use CD products that they purchase. With a purchased CD, the first sale doctrine permits the library to lend the item in its collection. However, if the CD is licensed to the library rather than sold, then the publisher can control the use.

The law does address this issue. Section 108(f)(4) of the Copyright Act states that libraries are bound by the license agreements they sign when they obtain copies of a work for their collections. So, license agreements trump copyright for libraries by statute. The use of licensed products may be restricted in a variety of ways by publishers, such as no use for interlibrary lending, no circulation of the work, and so forth.

A teacher has asked the librarian to record a television program from CNN about the future of U.S. education to be shown only within the school. The question is to what extent is CNN covered under fair use for educators. With the change to digital reception of all programs, has the law changed to reflect the change in television reception?

The law has not changed to reflect digital television reception, since the underlying copyright issues remain the same. In fact, throughout the Copyright Act, the language concerning technology is "now known or later developed." Recording the program to show it within a class with only students and teachers present is likely fair use. The performance of the video in the classroom is permitted under section 110(1) for face-to-face teaching. The recording should not be posted on the web, however.

Another alternative is to contact the network and seek permission. Should the librarian select this alternative, then the performance rights can be requested at the same time to permit in-school, including online instruction, use, rather than just face-to-face classroom use. If the video of the program is to be shown outside of a classroom, then a public performance license is needed.

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