Re: videos, distance education, & fair use

Barb Bergman (
Thu, 15 Mar 2001 14:29:59 -0800 (PST)

I'm feeling fiesty now that I've stirred up a can of worms with what
started as a hypothetical question.... I'm playing devil's advocate here
since the easy answer to any fair use question is, of course, "Ask for

Okay, a big cartoon lightbulb just lit up over my head: Educators and
films distributors appear to have very different definitions regarding the
meaning of the terms "distance education" and "broadcast" etc.

When I refer to distance education I mean: A regularly scheduled college
class where all students are listening to the same lecture at the same time
--but some of the students happen to be viewing the instructor through a tv
screen because they're sitting in a classroom 200 miles away. I'm talking
about an average 25 student class with one local and one remote site, not
some huge seminar with multiple locations. This real-time transmission is a
closed circuit. No one, I repeat NO ONE, outside of the classrooms can view
the class. No recording is being made of the class.

So, in my mind this is not a "broadcast" --I'm not showing a video on the
local public access channel or the campus information network. It's more
like having two TV screens in a huge lecture hall so that everyone has a
good view.

The issue is not really money. No, I don't have the money to buy two copies
of a $200 video, but the issue is that I shouldn't haven't to.

For example: Let's say I'm a professor and I'm teaching a biology class. I
have a great film showing the process of mitosis that I use in my regular
class sections; the visuals really help the students grasp the concept. If
I can't show it to the students taking my distance ed section, and I
wouldn't make an illegal copy of the video and mail it to the remote site,
do I just not use it? Doesn't this punish the remote students just because
they aren't able to sit in the same classroom I'm in? How can I consider
this an equal education?

See where I'm coming from?


Barbara J. Bergman Porter Henderson Library
Media Librarian Angelo State University
ph: (915) 942-2313 Box 11013, ASU Station
fax: (915) 942-2198 San Angelo, TX 76909
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