Copyrights in Face-to-Face Instruction

Exemption to Copyright
17 U.S.C. 110 (1) of the copyright law creates an exception to the copyright holder's exclusive right of performance. The "face-to-face" exemption allows an educator to perform a work (including home use video) in class, as long as the following criteria are met:

  • applies only to non-profit educational institutions;
  • applies only to instructional activities in the classroom where the teacher and students are in the same location;
  • covers performances of copyrighted works by teachers, students, and guest lecturers;
  • the audience must be composed of members of one class only;
  • the performance must be part of "systematic instruction," which does not include recreational or cultural programs;
  • the performance must take place in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction (i.e., not a gymnasium, auditorium, class play, graduation, athletic event, etc.);
  • must use a lawfully made copy of the film or video. When a professor has taken parts of copyrighted materials to make the copy, whether or not the copy was lawfully made depends upon an analysis of the four "fair use" factors. The face-to-face exemption itself does not authorize any copying.

There are no exceptions to the above requirements. Further, the relationship between the film or video and the course must be explicit. Films or videos, even in a "face-to-face" classroom setting, may not be used for entertainment or recreation, whatever the work's intellectual content.