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Teach me about copyright laws and using media for school projects

Food?Food? Registered User regular
edited February 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
More specifically, using copyrighted music in a 5 minute documentary I have to create for my video production class. I've heard rumors of this being allowed for "educational purposes", but Google searches have only provided me with pretty vague results. Does anyone have a definite answer?

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Posts

  • FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I'm pretty sure you'll be fine. Just don't ever sell the documentary, or tickets to see it. As long as you keep it small-scale and don't make money off of it, you should be fine. At least that's how my high school did it in video production 2 years ago.

    FirstComradeStalin on
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Congrats, you get a free pass on all media use since you're using it for a school project. Feel free to utilize entire songs, collage other video together, and so on.

    For academic purposes, you should cite your references and where you got things. If you don't, you'll probably get docked a little bit for your grade (not citing sources). But no, you needn't worry about copyright law for educational purposes, for the very reason that enforcing strict copyright law on educational purposes severely hinders education.

    Just don't try to sell your documentary after your class is over.

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  • Food?Food? Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    There will be no selling, and if I deem it festival-worthy I'll go back and change the songs.

    The reason I'm asking, however, is that the teacher said we should try and stick with the university's purchased media library, which consists of thousands of cheesy network tracks. I'd like to be able to tell her "look, we're legally allowed to use copyrighted media under ____ restrictions, so can I just do that instead?", and so I'm hunting for an actual document or something.

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  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Try this and see if it works for you and your professor:

    U.S. Code Title 17 Section 107

    http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107

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  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Not citing sources gets you kicked out of my uni.

    Damn plagarism!

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Well, your professor may simply have been encouraging people to use the university resources or library. She also may have wanted people to NOT download songs for their movie, thinking it's "ok cos it's for a class." Or she may simply have not wanted people using music with a ton of F-bombs.

    It's OK for you to do it. She also didn't put using the library as a requirement. If you're concerned, meet with her before class to tell her that you used commercial work, it's clean, and that you're using it under fair use and you simply pulled it off a CD you own. You didn't download the song illegally, right? :D

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  • Food?Food? Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    O' course not, nobody does that!

    Thanks for the input dudes, you've been more than helpful as always.

    Food? on
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  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    witch_ie wrote: »
    Try this and see if it works for you and your professor:

    U.S. Code Title 17 Section 107

    http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107

    Disclaimer: IANAL.

    Yes, this is the appropriate section of the law in the U.S. Fair Use doctrine, however, is purposefully vague and ambiguous. You do not get a "free pass on all media use since you're using it for a school project." Nor is it strictly legal to do whatever you want as long as you don't charge for it. On the flip-side, charging for it doesn't necessarily make a use infringing, either.

    For example, what if teachers just went down to Kinkos and Xeroxed whole textbooks and gave them out in their classes? It's for classroom use and educational purposes, and they didn't charge. Is that fair use? No, it likely is not. A court, in deciding whether a particular use were a fair use or infringement, would look at all four factors: the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the work, how much of the work was used, and the effect of the use on the market for the work. Specifically, a teacher handing out free copies of a textbook may be educational and noncommerical, but the blanket copying of the entire work plus the fact that it's depriving the authors of royalties indicates that this would not be fair use.

    The real problem, of course, is that fair use isn't a black-and-white doctrine. Nobody can look at a particular use of a copyrighted work and say with 100% certainty "this is fair use." Only a court can make that determination. However, if you were to use 30 seconds of a song in a classroom setting in a critical context for noncommercial, educational purposes you can be perhaps 99% certain that your use is a fair use and not infringement.

    If your teacher's standard is 100% certainty, then using licensed or public-domain media is the only safe way to go. If she will tolerate a reasonable interpretation of the fair use doctrine and 98% certainty, then you've got a case.

    DrFrylock on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    DrFrylock wrote: »
    witch_ie wrote: »
    Try this and see if it works for you and your professor:

    U.S. Code Title 17 Section 107

    http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107

    Disclaimer: IANAL.

    Yes, this is the appropriate section of the law in the U.S. Fair Use doctrine, however, is purposefully vague and ambiguous. You do not get a "free pass on all media use since you're using it for a school project." Nor is it strictly legal to do whatever you want as long as you don't charge for it. On the flip-side, charging for it doesn't necessarily make a use infringing, either.

    For example, what if teachers just went down to Kinkos and Xeroxed whole textbooks and gave them out in their classes? It's for classroom use and educational purposes, and they didn't charge. Is that fair use? No, it likely is not. A court, in deciding whether a particular use were a fair use or infringement, would look at all four factors: the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the work, how much of the work was used, and the effect of the use on the market for the work. Specifically, a teacher handing out free copies of a textbook may be educational and noncommerical, but the blanket copying of the entire work plus the fact that it's depriving the authors of royalties indicates that this would not be fair use.

    The real problem, of course, is that fair use isn't a black-and-white doctrine. Nobody can look at a particular use of a copyrighted work and say with 100% certainty "this is fair use." Only a court can make that determination. However, if you were to use 30 seconds of a song in a classroom setting in a critical context for noncommercial, educational purposes you can be perhaps 99% certain that your use is a fair use and not infringement.

    If your teacher's standard is 100% certainty, then using licensed or public-domain media is the only safe way to go. If she will tolerate a reasonable interpretation of the fair use doctrine and 98% certainty, then you've got a case.

    The truly critical aspect of fair use is that for it to be an issue, you would have to be charged with a crime. People should not be afraid of expressing their right to use media as they wish. I don't want to turn this into D&D, but the OP is not going to be charged with any crime for using a song for a school report, primarily on the basis of fair use. Specifically, no one would charge him because they know their case would be thrown out with extreme prejudice, based on the fact that most laws are nebulous and are largely ruled on precedent. And there is a LOT of precedent for academic use of works, even photocopying full articles for dissemination to students.

    I point this out because many people are downright afraid of copyright, rather than realizing its intent. My wife ran across a craft forum once where a lady had crocheted a large blanket with a representation of the Mona Lisa. And the moderator of the forum was getting into arguments by claiming it was copyrighted and the person shouldn't've made the blanket!

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  • Food?Food? Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Don't worry, I know what the true purpose of copyright is (to prevent someone from making money of something they didn't create), and I'm not scared about it. I have no problem nor fear of using media in a school project. I just wanted something concrete I could show my teacher so I wouldn't have to stick with crappy network audio.

    Food? on
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