Multimedia Copyright Guidelines

Whereas much of the General Copyright Information page is focused on copying copyrighted materials, this section contains guidance for using portions of legally acquired copyrighted materials without permission.

Guidelines

  • The fair use provision covers faculty members and students, who are permitted to use portions of copyrighted materials in multimedia projects for a specific course.
  • These guidelines apply to educational projects (e.g. PowerPoint presentations, Flash videos posted to the secure course environment of MyNorthwestern, etc.) that involve multimedia in ways that incorporate original materials such as lecture notes with copyrighted media, including graphic and photographic illustrations, music, motion pictures, and text materials.
  • Faculty may use such projects in a variety of educational contexts, including: remote instruction via a secure network that does not permit unlawful copying; student self-study; workshops, presentations, and conferences, and; professional portfolios used in an academic setting.
  • Any resulting document or file that includes copyrighted work must be used only for educational activities. Selling the work or using it in a for-profit setting requires permission.
  • The fair use exception lasts for two years from the incorporation of the copyrighted content. Permission must be obtained after two years if the project will be used again.

What and how much copyrighted material can be used?

  • Motion media: up to 10% of the total or three minutes, whichever is less.
  • Text material: up to 10% of the total or 1,000 words, whichever is less. See the restrictions above for more details on using copyrighted text materials.
  • Music, lyrics, or music video: up to 10% of the work but no more than 30 seconds of music or lyrics from an individual piece of music.
  • Graphic and photographic illustrations: no more than five images from one photographer or artist and no more than 10% of 15 images, whichever is less, from a collection.
  • Numerical data sets: up to 10 percent or 2,500 cell entries from a copyrighted tabulation, whichever is less.
  • Copying of a multimedia project: no more than two copies may be made of a project.

When is permission required?

  • If your proposed use is commercial in nature.
  • If you intend to make more than two copies of the project.
  • If you plan to use the project beyond the scope of these guidelines, which constitute a safe minimum but do not have the force of law.  

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