Can I show a pre-recorded DVD in the classroom?

Disclaimer: ALL information containing in my post is for informational purposes only and should never be construed as legal advice. For proper legal advice you should consult a lawyer.

So here is a question which staff often ask. Can I show a pre-recorded DVD in the classroom? In other words a DVD which has been rented from a video store, or a DVD purchased from a retail store? In the olden days we would have called this a video cassette.

Can I show a pre-recorded DVD in the classroom?

Under the Copyright Act, you can show a DVD in a classroom for the purposes of instruction without needing an additional licence.

If it is for entertainment purposes then you do need a public performance licence.

From the Government Intellectual Property Office.

“Performing, playing or showing copyright works in a school, university or other educational establishment for educational purposes.  However, only teachers, pupils and others directly connected with the activities (does not generally include parents) of the establishment are in the audience.  Examples of this are showing a video for English or drama lessons and the teaching of music.  It is unlikely to include the playing of a video during a wet playtime purely to amuse the children.”

From Filmbank.

“A copyright licence is required to screen films in educational institutions under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (UK), if the film is being screened for entertainment purposes rather than for the purposes of instruction or as part of the lesson.”

Not a lot of people know this.

Part of the misunderstanding arises as generally when you play a DVD you get this huge legal message indicating that your DVD is for personal use only and can not be played on oil rigs, in prisons, schools and colleges.

That is partly true for the purposes of entertainment and you would need to purchase a licence to show a DVD for that purpose.

However for informational and instruction (ie for educational reasons) it is possible to show that DVD in a classroom. Teachers and lecturers have a statuory right (it is enshrined in law, the Copyright Act to be precise).

So could you rip that DVD and put it on a laptop or on the VLE?

Ah no.

Ripping a DVD would be in breach of the EU Copyright Directive which “prohibits circumvention of copy protection measures“. So ripping the DVD is a criminal offence.

Photo source.

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