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Copyright guide

Videos and DVDs

Cinematographic works include "any works expressed by any process analogous to cinematography, whether or not accompanied by a soundtrack" (s. 2). In this section, the term “Video/DVD” refers to cinematographic work saved on one of various storage formats, including but not limited to DVD, Blu-ray disc, VHS, beta and u-matic tape, as well as 16mm and 35mm films, whether such is obtained from the Concordia University Libraries, from Visual Media Resources (Faculty of Fine Arts), from a video store, or from any other vendor, or is a personal, non-infringing, copy.

Canadian copyright on cinematographic works governs the right to:

  • copy a work
  • perform a work in public
  • communicate a work to the public (e.g. broadcasting)

Works that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright and can be used and copied freely. For dramatic cinematographic works (most feature films), copyright lasts for 70 years after the creator's death; for non-dramatic works (e.g. documentaries), copyright lasts for the remainder of the calendar year of publication plus 70 years (see Copyright basics - Duration of Copyright). It can be difficult to determine the identity of the creator of a cinematographic work; the best way to find out who holds copyright and whether or not a title is in the public domain is to contact the production company, distributor or licensing agent. You may be able to find this information in the Internet Movie Database.

Public performances of videos

In general, it is permissible for University employees to play sound recordings or music, show films or movies (including Video/DVD) or air live TV, if this is done on the premises of the University for educational or training purposes and not for profit, before an audience consisting primarily of students or instructors of the University.

It should be noted that digital locks (technological protection measures and rights management information) may not be circumvented in order to use the work. Furthermore, the sound recording or the cinematographic work being performed must not be an infringing copy and there may not be reasonable grounds to believe that it is an infringing copy.

Copying complete works

Videos/DVDs generally cannot be copied without written permission from the copyright holder. Exceptions to this are works that are in the public domain, works that allow copying under licence, or if the use falls under fair dealing.

Using clips in your own work

When using clips in one's own work, the following should be considered:

  • Is your work for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, or news reporting? If so, it may be fair dealing.
  • Are you an employee or student of the University and do you intend to show the work for free in class, for educational reasons, to an audience primarily consisting of students and instructors of the University? If so, then your use may be fair dealing.
  • Are you using clips from another person's work? If it is an insubstantial part of a work, then the clip can be used.
  • Are you engaged in non-commercial user-generated content (e.g., posting your own derivative amateur video on YouTube)? If so, a new exception to the Copyright Act (see s. 29.21) may apply to you.

Online videos and other media

Most online content will have a use agreement of some kind that must be consulted prior to showing in class, saving, or using in your own work. Even if the content is available freely on the Web, it is still covered by copyright and you must adhere to the terms of use of a website, which can often be found in a link (frequently named “Legal” or “Terms”) on the bottom of a webpage. Of particular note, the CBC has an FAQ page for use of their digital content. For live television programs, see the section on Radio and Television Broadcasts.

Exceptions for examinations

You can reproduce and perform a copyrighted work, on the premises of an educational institution, if it is for a test or examination and is not commercially available.

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