A federal judge in California threw out a lawsuit against the University of California, Los Angeles, brought for the second time by an educational video producer and a trade association for educational videos. The court said the university was in the right, under the “Fair Use” provision of US copyright law, to post videos it had purchased from Ambrose Video Publishing on the Internet for its students to use, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
“Fair Use” provisions allow teachers to make enough copies of copyrighted material for the number of students in their class. Teachers don’t have to obtain permission from the copyright owner to do this, as long as they are “transforming” the work by adding commentary and new insights in proportion to the amount of the original work being copied.
According to the university press office, UCLA purchases videos and other media specifically for instructional uses. Content examples include documentaries for history and sociology courses, foreign-language films for linguistics and foreign-language courses, and Shakespeare productions for English courses—all integral to the class instruction of students.
The lawsuit was thrown out before, in October 2011, and this time, it was thrown out with prejudice, a move that would apparently prevent the plaintiffs from amending their complaint and trying again at the federal district court level.
This also appears to give educational institutions the right to rip the DVDs, circumventing access-control devices on DVDs they purchase legally. The complaint in this case, however, concerned the trafficking provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, not the access-control provisions. So, the access-control aspects of the ruling were not specifically addressed.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, to which this case would be appealed if plaintiffs sought an appeal, has issued mixed rulings when it comes to the DMCA. Rulings of the Ninth Circuit have also differed from rulings in other appellate courts, which could set up a potential showdown in the Supreme Court.