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[This explanation originates with Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. and is reproduced here with permission.]

Students and instructors can play lawfully made video materials in a nonprofit educational setting when the purpose is educational.

The Face-to-face Teaching Exemption

Section 110 of the 1984 Copyright Act provides a specific exemption to the licensing of what is clearly a public performance, otherwise known as "face-to-face teaching."

  • To qualify for the exemption, the showing must occur in a face-to-face teaching situation at a nonprofit education institution and meet the following seven criteria:

  • Performances and displays of audiovisual work must be made from legitimate copies (not copies of legitimate copies nor copies from broadcasts)

  • Performances and displays must be a part of a systematic course of instruction and not for entertainment, recreation or cultural value of any part of the audience.

  • The instructor should be able to show how use of the motion picture contributes to the overall course study and syllabus.

  • The course does not have to be a credit course, but must be recognized by the university and one for which people must register.

  • Performance and displays must be given in classrooms and other spaces devoted to instruction. Library screening rooms, residence hall lounges, and cafeterias do not qualify.

  • Performance and displays must be part of the teaching activities of the nonprofit educational institution. Businesses that conduct educational seminars and some technical schools do not qualify.

  • Attendance is limited to instructors, students and guest lecturers. Only people registered for the class can attend the screening, and no fee specific to the showing can be charged.

Guidelines for Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Educational Purposes

  • The guidelines were developed to apply only to off-air recording by nonprofit educational institutions.

  • A broadcast program may be recorded off-air simultaneously with broadcast transmission (including simultaneous cable retransmission) and retained by a nonprofit educational institution for a period not to exceed the first forty-five (45) consecutive calendar days after date of recording. Upon conclusion of such retention period, all off-air recordings must be erased or destroyed immediately. "Broadcast programs" are television programs transmitted by television stations for reception by the general public without charge.

  • Off-air recordings may be used once by individual teachers in the course of relevant teaching activities, and repeated once only when instructional reinforcement is necessary, in classrooms and similar places devoted to instruction within a single building, cluster or campus, as well as in the homes of students receiving formalized home instruction, during the first ten (10) consecutive school days in the forty-five (45) calendar day retention period. "School days" are school session days--not counting weekends, holidays, vacations, examination periods, or other scheduled interruptions--within the forty-five (45) calendar day retention period.

  • Off-air recordings may be made only at the request of and used by individual teachers, and may not be regularly recorded in anticipation of requests. No broadcast program may be recorded off-air more than once at the request of the same teacher, regardless of the number of times the program may be broadcast.

  • A limited number of copies may be reproduced from each off-air recording to meet the legitimate needs of teachers under these guidelines. Each such additional copy shall be subject to all provisions governing the original recording.

  • After the first ten (10) consecutive school days, off-air recordings may be used up to the end of the forty-five (45) calendar day retention period only for teacher evaluation purposes, i.e., to determine whether or not to include the broadcast program in the teaching curriculum, and may not be used in the recording institution for student exhibition or any other non-evaluation purpose without authorization.

  • Off-air recordings need not be used in their entirety, but the recorded programs may not be altered from their original content. Off-air recordings may not be physically or electronically combined or merged to constitute teaching anthologies or compilations.

  • All copies of off-air recordings must include the copyright notice on the broadcast program as recorded.

  • Educational institutions are expected to establish appropriate control procedures to maintain the integrity of these guidelines.

Congressional Record Oct. 14, 1981 Vol. 127 No. 145