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Library Research Guides

Copyright and Using Video

This guide outlines the copyright considerations for using video in an academic setting.

Copyright Questions?

The University of Michigan Library Copyright Office provides help with copyright questions for University of Michigan faculty, staff and students. Please email us with questions or visit our website for more information.

Legal Advice

The information presented here is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions pertaining to the University of Michigan, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

If you require legal advice in your personal capacity, the lawyer referral services operated by the Washtenaw County Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan may be helpful to you.

Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems

Even when copyright law permits your use of a work, it may be illegal to circumvent an access-control technology to make that use.

17 U.S.C. § 1201 prohibits the circumvention of any technological measure that “effectively controls access” to a work that is protected under U.S. copyright law. For instance, it is generally illegal under this provision to circumvent the Content Scramble System that restricts access to in-copyright works on some DVDs. This is known as the anti-circumvention provision of section 1201. Section 1201 also prohibits trafficking in tools that circumvent effective access controls or circumvent controls that protect “a right of the copyright holder under this title.” That is known as the anti-trafficking provision.

Every three years, the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office create exemptions to the anti-circumvention provision. The most recent exemptions were issued in 2015. Some other anti-circumvention exceptions are written into the statute, including exceptions for encryption researchers and law enforcement officers.

For information about the current exceptions, please consult the following resources.

2015 Anti-Circumvention Exemptions for Video

The following 2015 anti-circumvention exemptions pertain to the use of video.

(1) Motion pictures (including television shows and videos), as defined in 17 U.S.C. 101, where circumvention is undertaken solely in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances:

(i) For use in documentary filmmaking,

(A) Where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted, or

(B) Where the motion picture is lawfully made and acquired on a DVD protected by the Content Scramble System, on a Blu-ray disc protected by the Advanced Access Control System, or via a digital transmission protected by a technological measure, and where the person engaging in circumvention reasonably believes that screen-capture software or other non-circumventing alternatives are unable to produce the required level of high-quality content;

(ii) For use in noncommercial videos (including videos produced for a paid commission if the commissioning entity’s use is noncommercial), 

(A) Where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted, or 

(B) Where the motion picture is lawfully made and acquired on a DVD protected by the Content Scramble System, on a Blu-ray disc protected by the Advanced Access Control System, or via a digital transmission protected by a technological measure, and where the person engaging in circumvention reasonably believes that screen-capture software or other non-circumventing alternatives are unable to produce the required level of high-quality content; 

(iii) For use in nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis, 

(A) Where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted, or 

(B) Where the motion picture is lawfully made and acquired on a DVD protected by the Content Scramble System, on a Blu-ray disc protected by the Advanced Access Control System, or via a digital transmission protected by a technological measure, and where the person engaging in circumvention reasonably believes that screen-capture software or other non-circumventing alternatives are unable to produce the required level of high-quality content; 

(iv) By college and university faculty and students, for educational purposes, 

(A) Where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted, or 

(B) In film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts where the motion picture is lawfully made and acquired on a DVD protected by the Content Scramble System, on a Blu-ray disc protected by the Advanced Access Control System, or via a digital transmission protected by a technological measure, and where the person engaging in circumvention reasonably believes that screen-capture software or other non-circumventing alternatives are unable to produce the required level of high-quality content; 

(v) By faculty of massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by accredited nonprofit educational institutions to officially enrolled students through online platforms (which platforms themselves may be operated for profit), for educational purposes, where the MOOC provider through the online platform limits transmissions to the extent technologically feasible to such officially enrolled students, institutes copyright policies and provides copyright informational materials to faculty, students and relevant staff members, and applies technological measures that reasonably prevent unauthorized further dissemination of a work in accessible form to others or retention of the work for longer than the course session by recipients of a transmission through the platform, as contemplated by 17 U.S.C. 110(2), 

(A) Where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted, or 

(B) In film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts where the motion picture is lawfully made and acquired on a DVD protected by the Content Scramble System, on a Blu-ray disc protected by the Advanced Access Control System, or via a digital transmission protected by a technological measure, and where the person engaging in circumvention reasonably believes that screen-capture software or other non-circumventing alternatives are unable to produce the required level of high-quality content; 

(vi) By kindergarten through twelfth- grade educators, including of accredited general educational development (GED) programs, for educational purposes, 

(A) Where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted, or 

(B) In film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts where the motion picture is lawfully made and acquired on a DVD protected by the Content Scramble System, or via a digital transmission protected by a technological measure, and where the person engaging in circumvention reasonably believes that screen-capture software or other non-circumventing alternatives are unable to produce the required level of high-quality content; 

(vii) By kindergarten through twelfth- grade students, including those in accredited general educational development (GED) programs, for educational purposes, where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted; and 

(viii) By educators and participants in nonprofit digital and media literacy programs offered by libraries, museums and other nonprofit entities with an educational mission, in the course of face-to-face instructional activities for educational purposes, where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted.