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COM 151 - Intro to Mass Media: Media Examples

COM 151

Class Guide: Resources for Research



1. Can I show copyrighted videos to a class?

Yes. You can show all or part of a video in a face-to-face class setting, as long as the showing is:

  • a "regular part of systematic instructional activities"
  • in a nonprofit educational institution
  • in a classroom or "similar place devoted to instruction"
  • the copy used must be lawfully made
  • Other notes: instructional activity must be taking place. The teaching activity should not be open to the public. The use of the video should be limited to the campus grounds.

2. Can I show a YouTube video in my classes?

Yes, using YouTube to demonstrate pedagogical points is fine. However, you should not use YouTube videos that contain infringing content. The best way to handle a YouTube video is to link to it. Using YouTube's embedded code for linking is ok also; it's just code and YouTube makes it available for users to embed.

3. Will I get in trouble if I use the wrong citation or link to an image that is copyrighted?

Not to worry-- Fair Use is quite broad in what it covers. Specifically for this course, using a work for criticism and commentary is considered "transformative" and therefore can be done without permission from the copyright owner. Additionally, as you are not likely to be publishing your homework publicly, your work will not have an impact on the copyrighted work. Let's take a look at the official Copyright Office code:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."

So, we are pretty well-covered, just make sure you attribute your sources correctly and check with a librarian before posting your work online! 

4. If we're protected under Fair Use, can't I just use anything I want? Why all the Creative Commons resources?

Fair use is one layer of protection. Creative Commons licensing is more forgiving than standard Copyright clauses, and allows you to reuse material without worrying about copyright claims as long as you use it the way the licenses say. The strictest Creative Commons license does not allow remixing/adapting, sharing the same material under a different license, and prohibits commercial use. For the purposes of this class, you won't be doing any of that. When it comes to sharing your work more publicly, using a CC licensed work is much less likely to get you into hot water. 


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Emma Schmidtke
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Room 210, Savage Library


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