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New copyright legislation - implications for movie use in schools

The Copyright Modernization Act (CMA) - Implications for using movies in schools

As many of you know, the CMA was enacted on Nov 7th, 2012.

For the complete text of the CMA, click here. For the list of educational exemptions, click here. (Download a complete PDF here.)

Here is my take on the "new" landscape:

Under the old provisions, teachers, teacher-librarians, schools or district resource centres were required to obtain licensing (public performance rights) to show movies to students. Either the PPR was purchased when the movie was originally bought (ie all the educational movies at DRC come with PPR), or a yearly blanket licence was purchased by the district from two agencies (ACF & VEC) to cover any "hollywood-type" movies used in class.

Because the Copyright Modernization Act has now been officially enacted, the rules have changed. The ACF/VEC licences are no longer needed for classroom use. The result is that any cinematographic work (ie. movie) that is not an infringing copy (ie. not a pirated version) can be used in educational setting for educational purposes.

Essentially, if a movie is used in class, under a teacher's direction, targeting some kind of learning outcome, then there is no problem. Even as an assembly presentation, if used in the service of a learning outcome, under the direction of a teacher, in an educational setting, then it would seem to meet the test. (ie. something related to Bullying or Self-esteem as part of the Personal Planning curriculum would be legitimate, if framed in an educational context.)

To paraphrase from the CMA:
(b) Expanded Educational Exceptions
(i)  An educational institution or a person acting under its authority, for education or training purposes on its premises, can:
  • perform a film or other cinematographic work in the classroom, as long as such work is not an infringing copy and was legally obtained; and
  • reproduce, communicate by telecommunication and perform for students, legitimately posted works that are available through the Internet, provided that the source and author are attributed.
The only additional issue schools need to be aware of (related to movies), is that if a movie is used for fundraising purposes, or for "entertainment" outside of an instructional setting, then in that case PPR would have to be purchased (either from ACF or VEC depending on the movie producer.) The cost would be in the range of 55¢ per student for each of the licensing agencies.