I am not a lawyer. I am a librarian. Though not an expert in the law I have tried to be well versed in this portion of copyright and fair use. I will not give legal advice, but what appears on this page is related to best practices of academic librarians and proposed by the American Library Association (ALA).
Section 102(a) Title 17, U.S. Copyright Act
(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories: (1) literary works; (2) musical works, including any accompanying words; (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music; (4) pantomimes and choreographic works; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; (7) sound recordings; and (8) architectural works.
(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
The Three Mentioned Requirements:
Must be an original work
The work of authorship or creator
AND fixed in a tangible medium
(1) literary works; [this includes computer programming]
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings;
and (8) architectural works
The important chapter for educators is Chapter 1 Subject Matter and Scope of Copyright. Within that chapter, we really are interested in sections 106-110. Those sections deal with the Limitations on exclusive rights. Sections 107 and 110 are critical for educators.
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
Art. I § 8. Cl.8
The Congress shall have the power ... to promote the progress of Science and useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
Title 17 ------ United States Code Copyright
Chapter 1 Subject Matter and Scope of Copyright
Chapter 2 Copyright Ownership and Transfer
Chapter 3 Duration of Copyright
Chapter 4 Copyright Notice, Deposit, and Registration
Chapter 5 Copyright Infringement and Remedies
Chapter 6 Manufacturing Requirements
Chapter 7 Copyright Office
Chapter 8 Proceedings by Copyright Royalty Judges
Chapter 9 Protection of Semiconductor Chip Products
Chapter 10 Digital Audio Recording Devices and Media
Chapter 11 Sound Recordings and Music Videos
Chapter 12 Copyright Protection and Management Systems
Chapter 13 Protection of Original Designs
In short the answer is probably, yes. Title 17, the U.S. Copyright Act, Section 110 lays out what is allowable for presentation in a classroom. There are requirements that need to be met.
1. It must be a lawfully obtained copy/video source,
2. it must be shown in a teaching space (classroom or similar place devoted to instruction),
3. it must be shown as part of teaching activity,
4. it must be "reasonable and limited portions... in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session", and
5. it must be shown "at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor as an integral part of a class session".
In plain English:
1. Legal copy,
2. in a closed space so that only the students enrolled in the course can view it,
3. comments, before, during or after, are expected,
4. limit the viewing to one class session (depending on schedule that could be up to 3 hours), and
5. it has to be related to the content of the course and not just a "fun" video.
The TEACH Act was a change to the copyright law specifically for distance education. As such, the Act makes provisions for such things as showing videos to distance learners. Yes, videos can be shown, but there are certain stipulations.
Those stipulations are:
1 - the video must have been legally obtained,
2 - portion shown must be"comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session",
3 - shown "at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor as an integral part of a class...",
4 - it is directly related to the content of the course,
5 - limited to those "enrolled" in the course,
6 - cannot be available "for a longer period than is reasonably necessary to facilitate the transmissions...",
7 - reasonable measures are taken to prevent copying the video, and
8 - must inform, describe, and promote copyright awareness to the students.
If you would like to post a video for your online students, please look at the tab "Moodle information". It describes your options. We can host/post the videos for you, but we will need the time to set it up.
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research [emphasis added]. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.
The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”
This is a very very basic overview of a very complex legal discussion. In general though:
Works published before 1923 are in the Public Domain. Generally this means no one owns the rights to it anymore and is thus available for anyone to use.
Works published from 1923-1978, in general the copyright is for 95 years from the publication.
Works published under the 1976 Copyright Act, which is created after 12/31/1977, the copyright is the entire life of the author plus 70 years. [Some works by anonymous or corporate authors may have copyrights up to 95 years from date of publication.]