Fair Use Question of the Month: Digitizing & Streaming Videos from a University Library
This month's fair use question comes from an employee in the IT department at a university library who is looking to take advantage of fair use in order to fulfill a professor's request.
Dear Center for Social Media,
I work in the IT department at a university library. A professor at the school is teaching a summer course and wants to assign his students to watch scene from a few videos we have in our library, then write a response to portrayals of gender in those scenes. As this summer course is taught primarily online, the professor has asked that, rather than placing the videos on reserve in the library, copies of the videos be made available to stream. Could this be fair use? What precautions should I take to ensure a strong fair use argument?
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The first principle of the The Code of Best Practices for Academic and Research Libraries states that "it is fair use to make appropriately tailored course-related content available to enrolled students via digital networks". However, you are right to take certain precautions when making this content available digitally in order to demonstrate that you are transforming the source material and are only using as much of the source material as is necessary for the transformative use.
If the course is only for the summer, the material should be made available only for that time, and the material should be made available only to those participating in the course. The amount used depends on the pedagogical need and presumes that the material was not created for those very pedagogical purposes, so if a professor has a strong pedagogical reason to show the entire film, this could qualify as fair use. However, as the professor only wants to show certain scenes from each video, then rather than digitizing the entire video, only the scene required for the assignment should be made available online. And as always, full attribution should be provided for the work. If you, the professor teaching the course, or the professor's students have any questions about fair use, check out some of our other fair use resources on the Center for Social Media's site.
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