Multimedia Materials

Users of video, television programs and other copyrighted media materials should become familiar with copyright laws and fair-use guidelines.  Violations could lead to prosecution for copyright infringement.

Contact Ginny Moran (x6398 or if you have questions about using copyrighted audiovisual materials or need assistance securing permissions.

Classroom Use

Instructors in non-profit educational settings may show copyrighted videos (DVDs and videotapes) in the classroom without restriction, as long as it is for students enrolled in the class and is in the context of face-to-face teaching (i.e., not for entertainment.)

Federal guidelines stipulate that entire videos cannot be copied without permission from the copyright holders.  Brief portions may be copied for instructional uses. Only three minutes or 10% of the work, whichever is less, can be copied without permission.  Most videos are copyright protected, even if a copyright notice is not visible. Transferring or copying video and multimedia materials in their entirety to other formats is generally not permitted.

Presentation to Audiences Beyond Those Registered for Specific Courses

Federal guidelines prohibit showing videos outside of the face-to-face teaching classroom without purchasing a Public Performance license (see below for more information) or obtaining permission from the owners of the copyright. This applies even though the instructor or other presenters believe the context is educational and not for entertainment. See "Public Performance Rights" below for more information.

Public Performance Rights

Public performance rights must be purchased or permission must be sought for on-campus film festivals, even though attendance is limited to members of the campus community.  Announcements or posters inviting the general college community to a showing of a feature film (even if no admission is charged) are not legal. Please contact Ginny Moran ( for assistance with obtaining public performance rights.


Reasonable efforts will be made to acquire versions or licenses for obsolete copyrighted formats (i.e., VHS videocassettes) and also for fragile/at-risk items in the College collection. Finding no suitable option, we may make a single copy in an appropriate media format with the following fair use stipulations:

Copies are:

  • for use only by Macalester faculty, staff and students
  • for educational use only and may not be used for public performances
  • not used or circulated simultaneously with the originals

We will:

  • provide full attribution, in a form satisfactory to scholars in the field, to the extent it is reasonably possible to do so
  • retain records of our acquisition efforts

This policy is informed by the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries developed by the Center for Media and Social Impact.

Streaming Video/Multimedia

There are legal restrictions on the use of copyrighted materials online and specific procedures must be followed to comply with the law.

Without permission, only three minutes or 10% of the work may be streamed, whichever is less. Video materials that are available for purchase in a digitized format must be purchased for use as streaming video, even if they are already owned in VHS or DVD formats, including materials cataloged in the college media collection. If not available in digitized format, permission can sometimes be purchased to stream videos, but for a limited student audience only, with appropriate password protections. Bear in mind that streaming a video is a form of duplication, and thus subject to copyright strictures.

With adequate notice, we can help you seek copyright permission.  Please contact Ginny Moran ( for a copyright permission request form.  For more information see our Frequently Asked Questions (link FAQs below).

Fair Use of Broadcast TV Programs

An off-air recording of a TV broadcast may be shown twice in a classroom during the 10 school days following the original broadcast. After this period, it may be used for teacher evaluation purposes, but may not be used for student exhibition without authorization. After 45 days of the broadcast, the recordings must be purchased or licensed or the copy erased or destroyed.

Media Services Reserves

Media materials used in courses should be placed on reserve at the DeWitt Wallace Service Desk.  Reserve materials typically remain on reserve until the end of the semester.  If a classroom showing is scheduled, the item will also be booked in the professor’s name so it cannot be checked out by another patron at the specified show time.  Media materials should remain on reserve so they are accessible to the students of the class and other faculty and students who may have need of the same material.

Faculty wishing to place materials on reserve should use the Library's general reserves form


The installation, use, duplication, and distribution of both free and purchased software is limited by the terms of licensing agreements (often referred to as End User License Agreements, EULA). These licensing agreements overcome copyright law.

The licensing agreements for College-owned software vary.  If you have questions about the installation, use, duplication, or distribution of College-owned software, please contact David Sisk at or x6745.

Podcasting Copyright Policies

When creating and posting a podcast, all traditional copyright laws apply and should be followed.  If use of the podcast is restricted to students in a class, fair use policies apply.

If creating a podcast with all original materials, the creator owns the copyright.

All necessary rights and permissions must be secured if creating a podcast with

  • previously published materials.  (If using something you wrote, you still must get permission if you signed the copyright over to a publisher.)
  • audio of another person’s voice.
  • a performance of someone else’s music.
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