School librarians are required to have a graduate course in copyright law, and it was one of my favorites for its practicality. It’s relatively easy to understand when applied to the rights of the creator, however, this understanding can become muddled when Fair Use is applied. Librarians not only manage resources but have a professional code of ethics to follow, in which one of the eight articles specifically mentions copyright. With this knowledge, school librarians have a responsibility to provide guidance in how resources are viewed, used, copied, and streamed within the public-school setting.
Years ago, before technology provided fingertips easy access to a plethora of resources, there were simple guidelines for using music, photocopying print materials, and viewing videos. Not only has technology changed how we retrieve resources, but it has also drastically changed how we share resources - like videos.
Streaming videos from Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Netflix into the school environment is quite easy to do but the licensing agreement applies to the subscriber’s in-home use only. Even with a movie license purchased through SWANK/Movie Licensing USA and Motion Picture Licensing Corp. (which may be purchased through the Library 510 CoSer), streaming a movie from a personal account is not permitted.
So how do educators use videos for classroom use? There are three options. One is to use a physical DVD and measure its use against a Fair Use checklist, like this one from Cornell University: https://copyright.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/2016-10/Fair_Use_Checklist.pdf The DVD may be from a home collection, rented from a vendor like RedBox, or borrowed from a library.
The second option is to use streamed videos from CA BOCES’ Learning Resources. PBS, Discovery Ed, and CCC Streaming. Videos are educational, entertaining, complement curricula, and have already been vetted for Fair Use.
The third option is purchasing video streaming services through SWANK/Movie Licensing USA. It is rather inexpensive and offers 200 popular titles frequently requested by educators. Additionally, a school may submit an additional 15 titles into the collection.
What if an educator, parent group, or student club would like to host a movie viewing for entertainment? An umbrella movie license is required and is relatively inexpensive when purchased through the Library 510 CoSer. If a movie’s title is within the bank of titles listed, the video may be shown but it cannot be streamed from a personal account. Many schools choose to have a community event and host a free movie night. Snacks and beverages may be sold to raise funds. If admission is charged for viewing the movie, it must be applied to the cost of the movie license.
Although this is a quick overview due to limited space, I am happy to provide you with further information or answer additional questions. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org or (716) 376-8206.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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