I know when it gets to holiday season, people like to watch movies in classrooms. (I have done it myself, in the past).
The school was just sent a flier from the “Motion Picture Licensing Company” (MPLC, for short).
It included Guidelines for the US Copyright Act, Title 17, which was adopted in 1976.
-Noncompliance with the Copyright Act is considered copyright infringement, and fines for noncompliance start at $750, and go as high as $150,000.
If you remember (those that were here last year), there was an incident of copyright infringement in the use of an image on a teacher website last year.
-So, it can… and does happen.
A good general guideline I found online: (https://www.edutopia.org/copyright-rules-teachers)
a teacher may not be allowed to show the film The Lion King to the class simply because it was raining and the kids were squirrelly. It could be shown only if the class were doing a study of Disney films or were engaged in the study of a related subject.
So if you have the movie tied into an educational purpose… yes, you can use it. But you have to be able to show that… prove it.
Now, I’m sure the question of YouTube is crossing people’s minds… to my knowledge… YouTube videos are not copyrighted by the Motion Picture Association, so I believe these are fair game to use.
I am going to include some Q and A’s from the pamphlet (I’m typing these out by hand… so I’m going to shorten things a little).
Q: We show movies and tv shows that we have purchased or rented through an online streaming service (think amazon/Netflix). Do we need a license to view or show it in Public?
A: Yes. Even if you purchased the service, you have only purchased it for personal, private use, not for a public performance.
Q: We don’t charge admission. Do we need a license?
A: Yes. A license is required whether admission is charged or not.
Q: We’re a nonprofit, do we need a license?
A: Yes. Public Performance License is required by all organizations nonprofit, and for profit.
Q: We’re not open to the public, do we need a license?
A: Yes. Performances in “semi public places” (including Schools!) is subject to copyright control.
I am by no means an expert in copyright law. However, if you have a question about whether you can use something or not… remember that it needs to be tied to an educational purpose. Doesn’t matter if you own the videotape, DVD, or Netflix account. You only own the right to watch privately!
Here is another resource… you DO have some leeway, as educators. But just so you have the information.