Audiovisual Copyright: Frequently Asked Questions
We've collated answers to some of the most common questions relating to audiovisual copyright. These are presented here as an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
Please note: The remit of Jisc Digital Media includes the provision of practical advice and guidance to the FE and HE communities on copyright matters. Staff at Jisc Digital Media are not lawyers and all advice is provided on that basis. Should you wish to receive a legal opinion in relation to a copyright matter then you will need to seek the services of a suitable qualified lawyer. In the first instance you might wish to contact our colleagues at Jisc Legal
Although we can provide general principles, each case will be different and different considerations will apply. Readers are encouraged to contact us directly with any queries which may arise. Please also note that we cannot provide legal advice, this FAQ is intended simply as a guide to good practice in the areas of copyright and intellectual property rights (IPR).
Can I use material from TV/radio for teaching purposes within my institution?
Section 35 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 entitles educational establishments to make off-air recordings of broadcasts to use for educational purposes. However, the Act also entitles rights-owners to obtain payment from educational establishments for use of their material, but only under an approved licensing scheme.
The Educational Recording Agency (ERA) licence has been in effect since 30th May 1990. The Licence permits recordings of broadcasts to be made for non-commercial educational use. This includes radio, television and free-view broadcasts, but not pay per view broadcasts.
Key conditions of ERA include
- Recordings must not be edited or modified (though extracts may be recorded)
- Recordings must be marked with the date of the broadcast, the title of the recording, the name of the broadcaster, and the following statement: This recording is to be used only for educational and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the ERA Licence
- Details of any recordings made must be kept by the relevant department within a participating institution
- Recordings made under the ERA Licence may be communicated to registered students within the premises of an educational establishment. This means that recordings made under the ERA Licence may, for instance, be digitised and stored on a VLE, providing all access to that VLE is carried out whilst on campus (the digitised recording must also bear the statement given above). Off-campus access in not permitted under this licence.
- Does not cover Open University programming (see below)
- Does not cover recordings bought commercially
- Does not cover foreign, satellite and cable programmes, 'On demand', and interactive services
- Generally does not cover internet transmissions
The Open University Licensed Off-Air Recording Scheme covers both TV and radio broadcasts made by the Open University. It allows recordings of OU broadcasts to be retained by the University for educational purposes and up to 4 copies of each recording to be made.
Main conditions of the Open University Off-Air recording licence include
- Recordings must be labelled with the title of the programme and the date upon which it was recorded
- Recordings may be loaned to students providing there is no charge for loaning the recordings
- Recordings may be digitised and stored on a VLE for on-campus access only (no off-campus access permitted)
- It does not allow the incorporation of any OU recorded material into other audio-visual or electronic productions
- Or digitised recordings stored on the VLE may not be accessed off-campus
So how can I use materials from TV/radio for teaching purposes off-campus via my VLE?
Since 1 August 2007 ERA has offered its licensees the opportunity to take out an additional licence which will enable licensed ERA Recordings to be accessed by students and teachers on line whether they are on the premises of their school, college or university, or at home or working elsewhere within the UK.
Licensees will be required to have in place procedures to ensure that only "Authorised Users" will be able to gain access to ERA Recordings stored on the servers of a licensed establishment. The recordings cannot be posted for open access by people who are not Authorised Users or for any purposes other than educational use. It is expected that a similar add-on licence will be announced by the Open University in due course.
Can I make use of this movie, album or other commercially available media for teaching purposes within my institution?
Recorded or live music can be freely played for educational purposes if the audience is just made up of students and teachers. Educational establishments may play or show a sound recording, film, video, DVD, broadcast or cable programme to audiences of staff and students "in the activities of the establishment or for the purposes of instruction". Labels on videos such as "licensed for home use only" may be ignored if the audience is only made up of students. No charge must be made. If members of the public are admitted then a licence would have to be given by the copyright holders. Note that there is no automatically granted permission to media shift (for instance rip a CD to MP3) in UK law.
I want to use a commercial song or video in a Podcast that I wish to make available via the web. Am I allowed to do this?
If you intend to include works that have been created where you, or your institution are not the copyright holder then you must obtain the appropriate permissions from the rights offer.
Commercial works, such as songs or videos often have rights that can be very difficult or even impossible to obtain so care should be taken when selecting any third party material.
Where can I find music online to include in my productions that doesn't infringe copyright?
There are numerous websites that provide free and/or paid music online which have little or no rights restrictions associated. Music hosting sites with the emphasis on user generated content can contain a diverse catalogue of music and sounds and many ask their users to waive all copyrights on upload which allows anyone to use the files. Music which has been licensed under Creative Commons may also be suitable for your needs (although types of license can vary).
Our advice paper Finding Video, Audio and Images Online links to a number of sites that host free to use music and sound effects.
How can I protect media files I've created from unauthorised use and copying?
There are many ways to protect the material you have made yourself. Digital Rights Management can be used to ensure only your authorised audience can play back the material. DRM does risk antagonising your intended audience especially at times of hardware or software updating. Some DRM measures are so stringent (for instance time limited licensing) that accessibility can be severely limited. Many online collections have abandoned DRM in favour of streaming formats which cannot easily be downloaded to a local machine.
By far the most popular method of copyright protection is a clearly displayed statement, spelling out permissions. Creative Commons is a public realm licensing scheme which gives content creators a multi-layered set of options ranging from open reuse which simply requires the creator to be credited to clear stipulations of just how the content should be reused.
I want to make a recording in a public place, whose permission do I need?
Firstly, be aware that a ‘public place' isn't a simple defined term. Shopping centres are not deemed public places in this context and permissions will need to be sought from the overarching management. Similarly ‘public' parks are owned and managed by borough councils and technically speaking permissions should be sought to record there. This is unlikely to be an issue though, unless large groups of media students regularly descend, and disturb the peace. Generally photographing buildings is permitted for non-commercial purposes.
Making recordings of members of the public is permissible as long as they are not ‘harassed'. The law is not concerned with the making of the media, only with their publication. If recordings are subsequently made public then the subject of the media has recourse to the civil law, and permissions are required.
Permission from a parent or guardian should be sought before taking any recordings of children or minors.
My legacy media collection is falling apart before my eyes. Can I copy the content in order to preserve it?
There is still no exception in UK law for preservation copying. For materials which are still in copyright, permissions should be sought from copyright holders prior to any copying being done. This area is under consideration though with museums, libraries and archives lobbying for change.
My video collection has no closed captions or audio description and this is limiting its use. Can I add some?
Unless you are the copyright owner for a video you will need permission to add interpretive text or descriptions. Off air licensing schemes such as ERA expressly forbid the third party adding of interpretive information.
Can I use this media I found on a social networking site for teaching purposes within my VLE?
Careful investigation of media found online should be made before it is made available publicly. Even if permission seems to have been granted through Creative Commons, the question should be asked: ‘Did the poster have those permissions to grant?' Take a look at other posts made by the same individual, do they seem incongruous or maybe too good to be true? If in doubt, search for similar media made freely available by more reputable sources such as JISC Collections, Teachers TV or Teachertube.
I want to commission a media production company to make a recording for my institution. Will I own the copyright?
Not unless the institution was named as the copyright holder in a contact sign by the media producers. By default the initial copyright would be owned by the creator of the media, not its commissioner. Unless such a contract is signed, the media producers would be able to dictate terms of usage to the commissioning institution.
Unlike copyright, artistic or moral rights (the right to be credited as the creator of a work for instance) cannot be transferred or sold and are always retained by the creator of the work.
I would like to record my students during lectures and meetings. Is it ok to publish this material if they verbally agree at the time?
Yes it is ok, but to be on the safe side, you should communicate exactly what you intend to do with the material and obtain written (signatory or electronic) permission to that effect from your students, especially if you are planning to do a lot of this. This will make sure that your students understand your intentions and can express any reservations right away to prevent any future challenges having an effect on publishing your resources, where no waiving of rights can be physically proven. You should also be very careful to address any content that might be inappropriate to publish, before making the recordings accessible.
A copyright clearance form will provide your institution with the appropriate permissions. Please see this example of a copyright clearance form (PDF).
My students have produced some of their own recordings that include some rather critical accounts of public figures and academic works. As we are an educational establishment, is it fine to make these publicly available?
Educational or not, content that includes defamatory or libellous comments should not be made publicly available for fear of legal action. Regardless of the individual making these comments, your institution will also be liable for publishing the materials. For information relating to your specific situation, it is advisable to seek legal advice via your institution.
Published in: Managing