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Copyright for Educators: Media

Using Video or Video Clips

Most videos today are protected by content scrambling systems (CSS), technological protection measures (TPMs) or digital rights management (DRM), and it is a violation of the law to circumvent these protections to copy material from a video.

  • How YouTube thinks about copyright
    Margaret Stewart, YouTube's head of user experience, talks about how the ubiquitous video site works with copyright holders and creators to foster (at the best of times) a creative ecosystem where everybody wins.

Getting Public Performance Rights

Obtaining a public performance license is relatively easy and usually requires no more than a phone call. Fees are determined by such factors as the number of times a particular movie is going to be shown, how large the audience will be and so forth. While fees vary, they are generally inexpensive for smaller performances. Most licensing fees are based on a particular performance or set of performances for specified films. The major firms that handle these licenses include:

Movie Licensing USA 877-321-1300
Films, Inc: 800-323-4222
Swank Motion Pictures, Inc: 800-876-5577
Motion Picture Licensing Corp (MPLC): 800-338-3870
Criterion Pictures: 800-890-9494

Free Feature Films, Documentaries and More

Free video collections online. Documentaries, educational films, films of historical interest, music videos, video art and more.

Royalty Free Media Resources

  • Archival Research Catalog  
    National Archives Database of various governmental and historical images, videos, sound bites. Be sure to check each resource's copyright statement.
  • Creative Commons Search  
    Search for images, video, sounds, and more.
  • Flickr  
    Be sure to select the Creative Commons option before searching! Use for photos or videos.
    " is the largest collection of free photographs on the Internet (link back and attribution required)."
  • Free Images  
    The only drawback is you have to join this site first.
  • Free Photographs  
    "An online resource for royalty-free stock photographs for non-commercial use."
  • Library of Congress Collection  
    Produced by the Library of Congress and mostly free. Be sure to check the copyright statement before using.
  • The Morgue File  
    "Free images for your inspiration, reference and use in your creative work, be it commercial or not!"
  • Google LIFE Photo Archive  
    Images with copyright restrictions will have a note on the actual image.

Vendors that Sell Movies with Public Performance Rights

Many vendors of educational videos/DVDs sell institutional versions of titles that automatically come with public performance rights. All titles purchased from the following vendors are institutional versions that come with public performance rights:

Using Media

Copyright as it relates to public performance rights

If OPS has not purchased the public performance rights when it acquired the media, a copyrighted work may not be shown to groups of students or staff unless it meets the criteria which define a “face-to-face teaching” exemption to copyright law. This exemption allows for legally reproduced work to be used only:

  • in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, and
  • in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, and
  • as long as there is no direct or indirect admission charge, and
  • if it is a regular part of the instructional activities, and if it is directly related to the teaching content

§ 110. Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays

American Library Association - Performance of or Showing Films in the Classroom


In order to know which uses of audiovisual materials are permitted and prohibited by the Copyright Act, educators need to understand two key terms: performance and display.

Under Section 101 of the Copyright Act in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, these terms are defined as follows:

  • To display a work means to show individual images non-sequentially.
  • To perform a work means to show its images in sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible.

For example, in lay terms, one displays pictures of audio-visual frames of a film or videotape, whereas one performs an audiovisual work by running all or part of it through the projector or player.

Permissible Uses

The display or performance of audiovisual works in non-profit institutions is permissible, provided the following conditions are met:

  1. They must be shown as part of the instructional program.
  2. They must be shown by students, instructors or guest lecturers.
  3. They must be shown either in a classroom or other location devoted to instruction such as a studio, library, or auditorium if it is used for instruction.
  4. They must be shown either in a face-to-face setting or where students and faculty are in the same building or general area.
  5. They must be shown only to students and/or educators.
  6. They must be using a legitimate (that is, legally reproduced) copy with the copyright notice included.

Prohibited Uses

Displays and performances of audiovisual works are prohibited in nonprofit educational institutions when:

  1. They are used for entertainment, or for their cultural or intellectual value but unrelated to a teaching activity.
  2. They are shown in a public performance, to an audience not confined to students, and not related to educational instruction, such as a sporting event, graduation ceremony or community arts or lecture series.
  3. They involve an illegally acquired or illegally duplicated copy of the work.
  4. They are transmitted by radio or television (either closed or open circuit) from an outside location.

Royalty Free Sound Resources

  • FREE Sound Effects  
    A listing of sound effects for video productions.
  • Freesound Project  
    "The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds."
  • FindSounds  
    "A free site where you can search the Web for sound effects and musical instrument samples."
  • Freeplay Music  
    Free music and sound effects.
  • Free Sound Effects  
    "You may use the sound effects on this web site free of charge in your video, film, audio and multimedia productions..."
  • Incompetech  
    Royalty-free music.
  • Sound Effects Libraries  
    Free sound effects and also links to licensed providers.

Copyright & Media Web Sites

More Vendors that Grant Public Performance Rights for Copyrighted Movies

Vendors that Grant Public Performance Rights for Copyrighted Movies

If you want to show a copyrighted film in a public setting, you will need to contact one of these licensing service companies to obtain permission.

Copyright & Media Web Sites

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).

Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).