Streaming Videos: Streaming Videos & Copyright

This guide will help faculty and students find and use streaming videos. We've also included important information about copyright and fair use of streaming videos.

Copyright Basics

Most streaming videos, and many other intellectual and creative works, are protected by copyright: using or sharing these videos without permission might violate the rights of the copyright owner.  For information about copyright, the kinds of intellectual and creative works that are protected by copyright, and what copyright doesn't cover, see the Libraries' Copyright Resources.

Remember:  all videos in Library databases come with a license to use them in the classroom and in online teaching, so there's no need to worry about copyright! 

Ways to Use Copyrighted Content

U.S. copyright law offers several ways for educators and scholars to use videos and other content which someone else made, without infringing copyright.  These include exceptions to copyright, like fair use and educational exceptions like the TEACH Act.  Videos in the public domain are freely available to use, and many modern creators choose to make videos freely available through Creative Commons licenses

See below for details about the copyright exceptions for in-person and online teaching.  To learn more about fair use, the Public Domain, and Creative Commons licenses, and to find content you can freely use, see the following links:

Copyright Exceptions for Educators

Streaming Videos in the Classroom

U.S. copyright law has very broad exceptions for using copyrighted content in face-to-face classroom instruction. 

You can play audio or video, perform theatrical scenes, read from texts, and display images, as long as: 

  • you obtained the material legally
  • you're involved in face-to-face teaching in a classroom or other space dedicated to instruction
  • you're at a nonprofit educational institution

This is a very large and flexible exception to copyright law—and it lets GVSU instructors engage in effective and interesting teaching activities without having to worry about copyright. However, this only applies to in-person instruction!  Online instruction is a bit more complicated.

Streaming Videos in Online Education:  The TEACH Act

The TEACH Act of 2002 was intended to give educators the freedom to display videos, audio, and images as part of online courses, too, but along with this freedom came a lengthy set of requirements for instructors, their institutions, and their distance education technology.

Many universities and libraries (including the GVSU Libraries) find it easier to rely on Fair Use, video subscriptions, and open-licensed videos, instead of trying to comply with the TEACH Act's long list of requirements.  

If you are interested in learning more about the TEACH Act, its requirements, and how to use the TEACH Act in your online teaching, check out the following links:

  • Last Updated: Dec 9, 2022 12:31 PM
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