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February 2, 2005
Teaching Still Legal
Michael Madison's two cents on the Virginia teacher threatened for planning to show "Eyes on the Prize" to students:
Does anyone actually read the Copyright Act? Take a look at section 110, subparagraph (1). Teachers who show copyrighted films to their students in class are not infringing anyone's copyrights. Period. No permission or license is necessary, and fair use is irrelevant.
Siva, the cited section:
§ 110. Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:
(1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made;
Update: Joe Gratz
: "In this case, the teacher presumably planned to use a copy of 'Eyes on the Prize' downloaded via Downhill Battle's BitTorrent links. As the law stands, that's an infringing copy, no matter what you or I or Downhill Battle think the law ought to be...Plus, there's a substantial question as to whether a showing 'for students and community members' is a showing 'in the course of face-to-face teaching activities.'"
Update #2: Nicholas Reville of DownhillBattle, via email: "Actually, the school has real, school-version, VHS tape of Eyes on the Prize."
Update #3: Elizabeth Townsend: "I think this is very very important point that teachers are often not aware. Show what you want in class. That's your right. Use it! Use it! That's part of the Copyright Act."
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