Copyright law makes special provision for displaying images, playing motion pictures or sound recordings, or performing works in classes. Section 110 of the Copyright Act allows the performance or display of copyrighted works in the course of face-to-face teaching. Students and faculty may develop and give classroom presentations that use copyrighted audiovisual materials without obtaining permission. As these instructional activities move beyond the classroom, or as we redefine "places of instruction" the situation becomes more complex since the rules for distance education are still evolving.
Uses of multimedia outside the traditional classroom should be analyzed using the four factors of fair use, and it is helpful to use the Fair Use Checklist (Columbia) to make your analysis. Some legal experts believe that classroom presentation of media may also be delivered via the Web to any location if instruction is occurring. Password protection for distribution of multimedia presentations is especially important when using copyrighted materials. For a closer look at your rights to transmit works to a distance education class see NC State's TEACH Toolkit. Art slides, music, film clips, photographs and other media may have multiple copyright owners. However, fair use applies in all cases regardless of the medium.
Before you pay for use rights, check with your library to explore whether your use rights have been paid for or whether there are alternatives to paying a fee.