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Using YouTube videos for teaching

Chris JHolland2 February 2017

I was recently asked to clarify the copyright considerations when reusing videos from YouTube for teaching. There are a number of issues to examine:

  • Anyone can upload a YouTube video, but does that person own the copyright? We can’t assume they do and we should consider this.
  • Maybe the person who posted the video does own the copyright, but have they included any other copyright protected works (music, recent artworks etc.). Does it look as though it is infringing?
  • Many YouTube videos have a Creative Commons licence attached which allows reuse in many contexts. So once we have clambered over the initial hurdle of copyright ownership, any videos with a CC licence are potentially reusable for teaching purposes as long as we adhere to the licence terms.
  • YouTube has its  own detailed terms of service which appear to restrict the user to “personal, non-commercial” use. On the face of it this clashes with the rights granted by CC licences.
  • On the other hand YouTube clearly recognises that copyright is owned by the author of the video, so perhaps we can assume that the CC licence chosen by the author  overrides the general YouTube terms of service?

Digitising videos and the “Preservation exception”

Chris JHolland3 September 2015

This is an enquiry from one of the UCL Libraries: Would the “Preservation exception” contained in Section 42 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) cover the digitising of their extensive collection of historical videos? The videos were originally published in various countries and are not made available for loan.

The answer is that this collection is a good example of material in a superseded format which could  be digitised under the terms of the Preservation exception. The main conditions from CDPA Section 42(2) are that the “work” must be:

“(a) included in the part of the collection kept wholly or mainly for the purposes of reference on the institution’s premises,

(b) included in a part of the collection not accessible to the public, or

c) available on loan only to other libraries, archives or museums”

Despite the ambiguities we can assume that it is enough for one of the conditions to be fulfilled and archival video collections will usually tick the box.

There is a further condition that the exception only applies when it is “not reasonably practicable” to fulfill the preservation need by purchasing a digital copy – CDPA Section 42(3).

What can be done subsequently with the digitised copies is also governed by copyright law. The “Dedicated terminals” exception (CDPA Section 42) would permit the digitised videos to be made available within the Library. Following CJEU case law  (Ulmer v. Technical University of Darmstadt ) the Dedicated terminals exception might also cover the digitisation itself.