- Fair Use Guidelines for Student Media Productions

Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for informational purposes only and may not be relied upon as legal advice. Please consult an attorney with expertise in copyright law for advice relating to your specific circumstances and activities.

Copyright Law

The Copyright Act of 1976 became effective in 1978 as Public Law 94-533. It provides that copyright owners have the exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform, display, transfer ownership, rent or lend their creations. It also provides that educators may use portions of copyrighted material. The principles listed below are factors considered that would likely cause the use to be deemed fair:

Purpose of use: The purpose and character of the use is educational in nature.

Status of Original Material: The copyrighted work has been previously published since the creator of a work intends for it to be viewed by the public.

Amount of Material: A portion of the work may be used, but not a substantial portion. Substantial constitutes a large amount and/or a central or critical part of the original work.

Marketability: The marketability of the copyrighted work will not be impaired.

Copyright Guidelines

The Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia of 1996 were drafted by a diverse group of interested parties. The agreed upon interpretation of the fair-use provisions of the Copyright Act are currently endorsed by twenty-three associations including the U.S. Copyright Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They are not legally binding; however, they do define the educational audience and provide the following guidelines:

Definition: Educational multimedia, as it relates to these guidelines, incorporate students’ or educators’ original material, such as course notes or commentary, together with various copyrighted media formats including but not limited to motion media, music, text material, graphics, illustrations, photographs, and digital software which are combined into an integrated presentation.

Permitted Uses: Educators may use their own educational multimedia projects, created for curriculum-based instruction in face-to-face instruction, student directed self-study, remote instruction, peer conferences, and for their own professional portfolio. Students may perform and display their own multimedia projects in the courses for which they were created and may use them in their own portfolios as examples of their academic work.

Since the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia are merely criteria to be evaluated and not legally binding, an attorney should be consulted with if there is any doubt as to whether a use is a fair one.

These guidelines are available for non-profit activities of not-for-profit education institutions at all levels of instruction whose primary function is supporting research and instructional activities of educators and students. (Participation in the International Student Media Festival qualifies.) Students may use portions of lawfully acquired copyrighted works in their academic multimedia programs with proper attribution and citation and may perform their program for educational purposes and may retain it in their personal portfolios as examples of their academic work.

Generally-accepted Portion Limitations:

  • Motion media – Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less
  • Text material – Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less
  • Music – Up to 10% or 30 seconds maximum
  • Illustrations and photographs – Up to 5 images from a single artist or photographer – No more than 10% or 15 images from a collective work
  • Poem – An entire poem may be used if less than 250 words – No more than one poem by a single poet or 5 poems from an anthology
  • Longer poems – 250 words – No more than one poem by a single poet or 5 poems from an anthology

Cite Your Sources:

Identify – on screen – the source of published works included in a project, giving a full bibliographic description where available. Include author, title, publisher, and place and date of publication. Display the copyright notice © and copyright ownership information. Note if you have written permission from a copyright owner to use extended portions of material in a student media production. We at ISMF ask that Sponsors keep – and provide upon request – documentation of permission from copyright owners.

Caution:

Exercise caution in using digital material downloaded from the Internet. Access to works on the Internet does not automatically mean that these can be reproduced and reused without permission or royalty payment.


From Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia, 1996 of the Consortium of College & University Media Centers. Interpreted with regard to student media festivals by Sandy Glass, Coordinator of Media Services Gwinnett, Georgia.

You may also wish to consult
Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning by Renee Hobbs and the US Copyright Office Fair Use statement.

Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for informational purposes only and may not be relied upon as legal advice. Please consult an attorney with expertise in copyright law for advice relating to your specific circumstances and activities.