Background information provided by Mr. Becker: My copyright consulting is a separate role from that of my full-time position as a district administrator, supporting instructional technology and library media programs, for a school system in Florida. As an educator, I have clearly understood the need for concise, understandable information related to the Copyright Law. I have been acting as a national consultant since 1975. Since then I have worked with many state education and library departments and individual library and school systems. The materials I have made available are being used in all 50 states. I am a presenter at national, state and local conferences and continue to make presentations directly to faculty, administration and staff of K-12, college, university and library systems. Please feel free to contact me by letter, at the above address, or to call my at-home office, after 6 p.m. (ET) or on weekends, FAX to the same number or e-mail me if you have any questions or are interested in scheduling on-site services. You may also leave a message on the answering system and I will be most happy to return your call.

Copyright in a Nutshell
Few other issues generate more confusion and questions than the requirements of copyright law. Copyright is a matter of professional ethics and federal law. Statutory damages (penalties for violation) range from NOT LESS than $500.00 to $20,000.00 for infringement to each work.  A brief guideline is presented below.  A little-understood aspect of Copyright Law (2000) is the prohibition from changing of format without permission of the copyright holder.  This would include taking video and making a CD or making a cassette recording from a CD or a compilation of favorite songs on one CD without prior written permission.
  • CABLE: Cable comes free to buildings. Each program may have its own guidelines ranging from unrestricted to very restrictive.  Specific program guidelines are included in Cable in the Classroom. Extended copyright permission is often available for programs. Programs taken off air, unless otherwise specified, may be kept for 45 days and then must be erased after 45 days.  Programs will and may only be recorded at the request of an individual, not in anticipation of possible future use.

  • INTERNET: Policies for use of electronic media were revised and delineated in Copyright for the New Millennium, revised 2000. Fair Use tests (see Print below) also apply. New guidelines in the law are clear on several accounts:
  1. All information on the Internet is covered under copyright unless specifically noted otherwise. Access to information or other works on the Internet does not automatically mean that material can be reproduced and used without permission or royalty payment.  You have the right to listen, read, or watch only.
  2. No item from the Internet may be used unless copyright is acknowledged.  
  3. Copyrighted material must be credited in a separate section of a new work, except for images (which must be on the same page).  These must include the credit and name of the creator. 
  4. The opening screen of a multimedia production must indicate that materials are included under Fair Use exemption and are being used in accordance with law.
  5. No production that contains material copyrighted by someone else can be put back out onto the Internet (i.e., a student's production that includes material copyrighted by another, even with copyright permission).
  6. Motion clip:  may be used up to 3 minutes or 10% 
  7. Text: up to 1,000 words or 10%, whichever is less.
  8. Music: up to 10% but no more than 30 seconds.
  9. Illustrations: no more than 5 by one artist.
  10. Two copies of a multi-media production containing copyrighted material, can be made, one of which can be placed on reserve for 
  11. No copyrighted image (i.e., the ® Nike logo, Snoopy) may be altered in any way without copyright permission.
  • (SHEET) MUSIC: Several specific guidelines:
  1. For performance an emergency replacement copy may be made of an entire work and shall be replaced immediately by purchased of a physical copy.
  2. One copy of a work can be made for a class if the copy represents no more than 10% of the work.  
  3. A copy of a work performed by students may be made and kept by the teacher or school.
  4. A school may make a single copy of a recorded work and the original used as an archive copy.
  • PRINT: Teachers may make one copy of a chapter, an article, a short story, or a short poem.  They may make a copy for each student in the class as long as the copy contains copyright notice and meets the test.  They may never make a second set of copies of the same work without written copyright permission.
  1. BREVITY TEST: Short stories of 2,500 words may be copied in entirety; poems of 250 words may be copied; longer works and picture books are restricted to 10%.  Only two pages from a picture book may be copied.
  2. SPONTANEITY TEST: Decision to use such works must occur so soon before the class that is not feasible to obtain written permission from the copyright holder.  
  3. CUMULATIVE EFFECT TEST: Income of the copyright holder is not effected by such copying.  Copies may be made only one time and used in only one class; copying for use in more than one term is prohibited. Teacher may not make their own anthologies or make copies to substitute for buying the book, especially workbooks.  No more than three selections can be taken from one work.
  • TELEVISION (VHF Stations): Taped recordings can be made at the specific request of a teacher, must include the copyright message recorded on the broadcast program, and be may kept for only 45 days from the date of taping.  Students can view such a recording only twice during the first 10 (ten) days. Teachers may make their own recordings and use them for instruction; however, the 45-day rule applies to them. They should contact the producers to acquire other use rights. Any media coming into the school from an external source should have prior approval of the principal.  All media must be documented in lesson plans (see document, "Use of Media").

  • VIDEOTAPES: A teacher may use video to support current instruction only (see The Classroom Exemption below in Additional Resources ). A video about Columbus cannot be used in April, unless the topic of study is "Columbus."  Likewise, any videotape owned by the district can only be used in the classroom to support current instruction. Any video that is appropriate may be used in current instruction; feature-length and personal video must have prior approval of the principal. Videotapes rented from a video store do not carry the legal rights to be used in public performance, which is any application NOT related to current instruction (rewards, rainy day schedule, PTA meetings, pre-school programs, etc.). No district equipment may legally be used to show illegal copies of videotapes or for other illegal purposes (PTA, class rewards, baby-sitting).  No district videotape may be used for rewards.
  1. Any video not obtained through the media center must have prior approval of the building principal. 
  2. All non-print media should be documented in Lesson Plans.  
  3. Video for the purpose of reward or entertainment in not permitted to a public school without a license (this is a "public performance").  Public performance license for showing a video in a school can be obtained from Movie Licensing USA (  - you can either purchase a one-time showing license or an annual performance-site license - based on student enrollment). Certain companies are relentless in the pursuit of copyright violation. A teacher who goes out and buys a private copy of a commercial tape (i.e., Old Yeller) does not purchase public showing rights; they are purchasing private home showing rights. Some companies that sell videotapes also provide public performance rights.
  1. Although originating outside the district, this content is correlated to objectives and is approved for use in instruction.
  2. Teachers may download movie files to their desktop or H: drive.
  • Copyright Kids -
  • The Classroom Exemption (Face-to-Face Teaching)
    • The Classroom Exemption, under Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act, applies to traditional classroom settings, where the teacher and students are in the same location during a live class session. Educators and students are permitted to perform and display copyrighted audiovisual works in a classroom (or a similar place devoted to instruction - such as a library), as long as such use is in the course of face-to-face teaching activities at a non-profit educational institution. The instructor must be present during the performance and no admission or other fees can be charged to students for viewing the program. If all of the conditions of the Classroom Exemption are met, it is permissible to show a legally obtained program in a classroom or school library without obtaining permission from the copyright owner, even if labels like "For Home Use Only" appear on the packaging. The Classroom Exemption supersedes these written warnings of the copyright holder. Please note, however, that the Classroom Exemption does not authorize teachers or students to make or distribute copies of audiovisual works. The purpose of the exemption is only to facilitate the use of audiovisual materials for live, face-to-face class sessions and does not grant any rights to copy, edit, broadcast, transmit, or otherwise distribute copyright-protected works. 

      *Note: A widely accepted interpretation of Section 110(1) allows for videotapes and DVDs to be publicly performed via a closed circuit system for multi-classroom utilization, as long as the broadcast does not leave the school grounds.  This interpretation is supported by the House of Representatives Report No. 94-1476 which accompanied the passage of the Copyright Act. The Report states, "as long as the instructor and pupils are in the same building or general area, the exemption would extend to the use of devices for amplifying or reproducing sound and for projecting visual images." This law supersedes all written warnings of the copyright owner, unless there's a written license, in which case the terms of the license would govern.
Go to Library Video Company for more information.

Contact Information

Gary H. Becker, Consultant
P.O. Box 951870
Lake Mary, FL 32795-1870
TEL/FAX (Toll Free): (888) 333-2037
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