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Andy Horton, here at Tate Library Regent’s University London did a great overview of Copyright and video as part of the Tricks of the Trade series last week


Andy started by showing a Copyright video on Youtube and noting that the same laws that apply generally to copyright apply to video.

Copyright, the law, and you. Copyright is a strand of intellectual property law (along with Pattern, design and trademark). The purpose of Copyright law is to protect the owners of their creative works, be it the printed word or videos. It is illegal to copy, distribute, alter, shift format of a work without permission. So in the case of videos taking a section of a video and reusing it. Format shifting is illegal, so for example recording a CD and then uploading recordings to MP£ player is not legal, as is uploading a DVD to a VLE like Blackboard is illegal. Individuals and organisations are both held liable. The main act that describes this is called the The Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Does copyright apply to video? Yes. Films, TV programmes, radio programmes, web broadcasts, are covered by copyright law. It is illegal to copy, distribute, alter, shift format of a video, DVD, or other filmed work. The duration of copyright legislation is different for films compared to TV programmes.  Films: 70 years from death of last surviving of director or screenwriter or composer (whichever lives longest). However, for TV programmes it is 50 years from date of broadcast. So at the start of next year the first Dr. Who programmes will no longer be copyrighted.

Who owns the copyright on a video? Firstly, it is the creator of the video or the creator’s employer. So if I was to send out one of the library assistants to video people arriving at the library as say a promotional video Regent’s University would own the copyright on that. Rights may be sold or assigned to others.

Andy then played his friend’s band video on YouTube to illustrate this point. The band signed away their rights to the video.

Some other issues to be aware of are; Secondary infringement, Multiple rights holders, Other areas of the law may also apply. So that the first person who breaks the copyright law is not the only person who is potentially liable. So for example if a video is illegally uploaded to Youtube and then a lecturer embeds this link into Blackboard that lecturers is breaking the copyright law. Also other laws apply say for example the video is showing something that is illegal.

So rather than focussing on the negative lets look at what can be shown. There is the concept of ‘Fair Use’ in the law. What is allowed? “Fair use” as defined by law and the really important part of this for us in Higher Education is that it  is legal to show a work for purposes of “Criticism and review”. You can’t be expected to teach and discuss a film or video without showing it. Also, copyrighted works may be used for examined work. However, it is not “fair use” to play a copyrighted work for entertainment, including in the classroom. (say just playing the March from Star Wars just for fun!) Finally we have to be aware of ‘secondary infringement’ (e.g. filming a lecture where you showed a video).


We also have ‘Licenced Use’ of films and TV programmes. The Educational Recording Agency licence (ERA). Allows recordings off-air of Freeview channels and OU programmes for use in education. It also allows these to be uploaded to a VLE, such as Blackboard but it does not cover pay channels, on-demand services (such as BBC iPlayer etc). Finally the ERA does require sources to  be acknowledged and  credits included. Below are the ERA guidelines for citing the video:

Youtube.com and other video hosting services (such as Vimeo).

Youtube hosts videos uploaded by subscribers (ie those who join YouTube). Allow fair use of videos uploaded. Subscribers are responsible for copyright compliance. YouTube will take videos down if rights-holders ask. Some videos not available in all territories especially US sites. Also note there is the  risk of secondary infringement. YouTube also hosts some Creative Commons videos –where rights to distribute or alter are much less restrictive (usually as long as the intent is not for commercial gain). Also YouTube ‘Terms and conditions’ apply.

Using your own videos. When using videos you have produced yourself – Rights aren’t a problem, if you own them. So lecturers here at Regent’s can upload videos to Helix (the media player). However do remember that the copyright to works produced in course of your employment belongs first to your employer i.e. Regent’s University.

Permission. Obtaining permission to use a video. Explicit permission of rights holder is need. However, the Rights holder may not be obvious. There could be several rights holders, and danger of secondary infringement. In terms of making requests: explain exact use you wish to make, for non-commercial purpose, offer to acknowledge ownership. Example: Michelle Travis’ Avatar: City of Heroes Style. Used here with her explicit permission. andy's emailShe in turn had explicit permission to use in-game footage, and more importantly the soundtrack (Do you want to date my) Avatar by The Guild feat. Felicia Day

In conclusion make sure that you always act within the law, always acknowledge authorship and when in doubt ask for assistance!

Andy’s Contact details:

Andy horton

Tel. No.: 020 7487 7448

Email: Andy.horton@regents.ac.uk

Twitter: @fechtbuch