Is Streaming Copyrighted Videos to Enrolled Students Okay?

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

A federal judge in California has for the second time thrown out a lawsuit that accused the University of California at Los Angeles of violating copyright law by streaming videos online.

This is a nice win for those of us who would like to stream videos for students to watch, on their own, outside of class. It’s a better use of class time than playing a DVD for them.

However, as much as I would like this case to affirm streaming entire videos as fair use, I think the dismissal has almost no impact beyond the two litigating parties. Reading over the story, it really only protects UCLA, as a “sovereign entity,” against Ambrose Video, who lacked “standing” to bring this particular case against UCLA. The judge stops short of saying that streaming videos to only enrolled students is NOT even fair use because no court has ever declared it as such. If anything, it might even be grounds for an appeal.

I do applaud UCLA’s vigilance and hope that the fair use applies to entire works over an intranet. The technology is here, the need is here, and it’s a more efficient use of scarce class time.

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