Videos are such a useful way of adding to the impact of your teaching, and using other people’s videos saves you the time of creating something similar yourself. But most videos are under copyright, so how do we know when we can use them? And what if we want to adapt a video, or make a mashup of several videos? As noted in my earlier post on images, the short answer is “it depends”, so we’ll explore these questions in more detail.

Firstly a caveat: this post will talk about YouTube quite a bit; but I’m referring to material that has been legally uploaded to YouTube. There are videos on YouTube that have been illegally uploaded (you can usually tell – parts of commercial movies or TV shows for example) and you should never use these at all, or even link to them.

Remember, too, that you should always credit the creator of any video you use!

Scenarios of video use

📼 I’m from UTS and using a copyright video for teaching purposes

This scenario depends on the source of the video. It’s fine to provide a link to a (legally available) video, whether the video is on YouTube or a similar site, or in a library database. It is also fine to use embed code to embed a video in your subject, since this is essentially just providing a link. UTS Library highly recommends using links or embed codes.

YouTube even lets you provide a link that starts the video at a point of your choosing (click on the Share icon to do this and then tick the “Start at” box), or (if you sign in) allows you to make a link to a clip of up to a minute from most videos (a clip icon appears next to the Share icon). More information about this is in a Library handout created by David Litting:

UTS staff can copy and upload a video of part or all of any program that has been broadcast on Australian TV into your Canvas subject. This can be free to air or pay TV, and can be content made overseas. The library also has some extensive video databases such as EduTV and TVNews (which cover broadcast TV programs), and film directory Kanopy; see a full list here. These databases often provide a link or embed code; as noted above, UTS Library strongly recommends using links or embed codes in Canvas.

⏺ I’m playing a video during a lecture – what if the lecture is being recorded?

Again it depends on the source of the video. Any video can be played during a non-recorded lecture or presentation, including from YouTube or similar sites, or from any Library video database, or even from a DVD.

But when recording, only videos of TV programs that have been broadcast in Australia, or videos in the Public Domain or with an appropriate Creative Commons licence, can be played. For example, if you are showing a short video from YouTube, or from a library database other than EduTV or TVNews, you should pause recording while the video is playing, and provide a link (in Canvas, via email and/or in chat) for students who might wish to watch it later.

📢 What if I’m using a video on a public-facing page?

In this case you should only provide a link or use embed code to access any video from the page. Only legal, publicly accessible videos should be used. You shouldn’t save a copy of a video or provide a copy for others to download.

🎞 I’m mixing and matching

A problem with making mash-ups is that you generally do need to make and save copies of clips of videos, and then edit them together into a finished product saved elsewhere. For most videos, you are not allowed to do this except in special circumstances. The following are examples where you can edit or make copies of a video, or use part of a video in a mashup or in a recorded lecture.

  • While YouTube lets you create a link to a short clip of up to a minute for many of its videos, this does not actually create any new content. It just provides a link that starts and finishes the video at points of your choosing, so such clips can’t be used as part of a new video.
  • Videos with certain creative commons licences allow editing and clipping. If you want to edit, you should avoid licences with ND (no derivatives) or SA (share alike)
  • NC (non-commercial) should be fine most of the time, since most university activities such as teaching may be considered as non-commercial. However, subjects not taught by UTS staff, or where a fee is charged above normal UTS tuition fees, do count as commercial and would not permit using a NC-licensed video.
  • There is a Creative Commons filter on YouTube (under Filters/Features) so you can restrict your search to find these. You can also click on ‘Show More’ below any video. If you see ‘Licence: Creative Commons Attribution licence (reuse allowed)’ you are good to go, as this is a CC-BY licence. Be aware though, that unfortunately the vast majority of videos on YouTube do not have this licence and so cannot be edited.
  • Vimeo also has a creative commons section and another source of licensed video clips is Videvo.
  • Public Domain videos have been made available by their creators to be used without restrictions, and often you don’t even need to attribute them (though it is always good academic practice to do so). Moreover, all films that were released more than 70 years ago are now in the Public Domain and can be freely used. The Internet Archive has many public domain videos as does Pexels, and there are some library databases that contain newsreel footage and other clips that are in the Public Domain.

Australian copyright law allows for “fair dealing for the purpose of research or study”, “fair dealing for the purpose of criticism or review” and “fair dealing for the purpose of parody or satire”. This means that you can make a clip of a less than ‘substantial’ part of any video, and use it for one of these purposes. The trick is that ‘substantial’ is not defined, so you need to be careful with how much you use of any one video.

Whilst there is no clear legal direction on this, some have considered that where you include a short clip from someone else’s work and you can’t tell where the clip came from, it is probably not ‘substantial’. If the clip allows you to identify the video it came from, then it is. In any case, be sure to include a credit (attribution) of the other person’s work, even if you use only a very small portion.

If you do want to use a substantial part, or all, of a copyright video, to make clips or create a mashup, then you will need to ask permission to do so from the owner of the copyright of the video. It’s best to store the resulting video locally if possible, since uploading something containing copyright material that is not yours to YouTube (or similar) might conflict with their rights policy and attract a take-down notice.

🎵 Do I need to consider audio in the videos?

You always need to pay some attention to the audio tracks of the videos you are using. If there is copyright music in the audio, this may not be licensed in the same way as the visuals.

  • If the mashup is going to be used solely by UTS staff for a UTS audience, then our Music licence will cover any incidental copyright music in the audio, and all is good.
  • On the other hand, if you are going to allow the public to view it, our advice would be to delete as much of the identifiable music in the audio as possible and replace it with public domain music. Remember that the band Men at Work were successfully prosecuted for using only a few (but very distinctive and therefore ‘substantial’) bars of copyright music in their song ‘Down Under’.

Further information

As always, the Library is a great source of advice and information: have a look at our Use Content and Create Content pages, or consult with library staff.

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