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Copyright Rules for Showing Films in Higher Education: Home

The information presented here is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice.

FEDERAL COPYRIGHT ACT OF 1976

The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 (Title 17, United States Code):

  • Governs how copyrighted materials may be utilized publicly.
  • Protects "original works of authorship," fixed in a tangible medium including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works.
  • Copyright protections ensure that authors receive just compensation and attribution for their intellectual property.

This legal copyright compliance requirement applies to the showing of films at colleges and universities, but the rules vary depending on how and why a film is being shown:

  • Showing films in the face-to-face classroom
  • Showing films in online classes
  • Showing films for campus events

COPYRIGHT PROTECTION

Why is copyright protection important?

  • Protects the exclusive rights of creative works (intellectual property)
  • Gives the author of a work the ability to protect it from unlicensed or uncredited usage
  • Without protection, there is no incentive for authors to continue creating...
  • ...and no incentive for other to finance the creation of artistic works.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS

Only the copyright owner has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following?

  • Reproduction (copies)
  • Adaptation (derivative works)
  • Publication (distribute copies by sale, transfer, rental, lease, lending, etc.)
  • Performance (perform the work publicly)
  • Display (display the work publicly)

Legal Information Institute: 17 U.S. Code § 106 - Exclusive rights in copyrighted works

REGISTERING A COPYRIGHT

Benefits of Registering a Copyright:

  • Copyright is automatically granted to the author of an original work. No registration is required, HOWEVER...
  • Registration amplifies a copyright holder's rights.
  • Registration is required before a lawsuit can be files.
  • Registration creates the possibility of enhanced statutory damages.
  • Copyrights can be registered at the U.S. Copyright Office's website.

Copyright.gov

COPYRIGHT DURATION

This is a very generalized listing of copyright terms. Many factors affect the length of copyright terms for items created before 1978. As a general rule, the copyright protections for works created after January 1, 1978 last for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. Copyright notice is a statement placed on copies of a work to inform the public that a copyright owner is claiming ownership. Example: Using the copyright symbol (©).

DATE OF PUBLICATION

CONDITIONS

COPYRIGHT TERM

Before 1923

In the public domain

1923 through 1977

Published without copyright notice

In the public domain

1923 through 1963

Published with notice, copyright not renewed

In the public domain

1923 through 1963

Published with notice, copyright renewed

95 years from date of publication

1964 through 1977

Published with notice

70 years after death of author or, for corporate authorship, the lesser of 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation

After 1978

Published with or without notice

70 years after death of author or, for corporate authorship, the lesser of 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation

 

Copyright.gov: How Long Does Copyright Protection Last?

COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Copyright Infringement

  • A violation of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, unless fair use applies.
  • Those who violate copyright law can be prosecuted and/or fined.
  • Even inadvertent infringement is subject to substantial civil damages.
  • Can be prosecuted civilly or criminally, depending...

Copyright.gov: Chapter 5: Copyright Infringement and Remedies