Format Conversion and Copyright
Whether to Convert Your Old Format Media Through Copying?
As VCU is adopting digital technology, faculty are faced with challenges of integrating existing analog format media material with digital teaching equipment. Technology is available to copy older format media such as transparencies, 35mm slides, laserdiscs, phonograph recordings, 16mm films and videos into digital files or onto a variety of digital discs (cd's, CD-ROM's, or dvd's). See MRS Media Computers for information about digital video conversion PC's, video to DVD recorder, slide scanners and other equipment where users can convert their own media or portions of VCU Libraries media with assistance from MRS staff.
See also Technology Services, Media Support Services for video to DVD or other conversion transfer services or faculty or departments. The Technology Services Help Desk loans legacy format equipment, such as VCR's and slide projectors.
What are your considerations and best practices in the context of U.S. Copyright Law?
Section 107 Fair Use
Fair Use provides provisions for copying for teaching, scholarship, or research. The following chart shows some factors to weigh in determining whether your use is fair.
Commercially distributed audiovisual works generally receive less fair use consideration within the courts than do print works. See Distributor Resources: Film and General Media for assistance in deterimining if your film or other media is currently available in the media marketplace.
|Fair Use Factor||In favor of copying||Not in favor of copying|
|1. Purpose and character of educational use||Nonprofit||Commercial|
|2. Nature of copyrighted work||Fact based||Creative (art, films, plays)|
3. Amount or substantiality (heart of the work)
|Clips or portions||Whole work|
4. Effect on the potential Market Value of the work
Digital copy available
Licensing is available
Permissions easily obtained
Remember to include the full copyright attribution/citation from the original on any copies which you decide to make!
Other Fair Use and Copyright resources:
- Copyright Basics, VCU Libraries' Copyright | Publishing resources
- Fair Use Checklist, prepared by Cornell University
- Copyright resources, Media and Reserve Services
If you choose to pursue requesting permission, see Columbia University Libraries' site on Getting Permission. If you are contacting a distributor, make sure that they have the right to grant the permissions you need. Within the media market, a film may have multiple distributors for different rights. Ask for referrals; many of the independent, educational distributors know who may be the distributors of your title.
Below is a sample request letter which may be useful in creating your request. Be sure and include the following elements: name and citation of the work; author or filmmaker; copyright owner; media type; conversion format and number of copies; your contact owner; date permission requested; and date by which permission needed. If the request is done by phone, be sure to record the conversation in detail and follow-up in writing.
VCU Department of XXX currently owns the following videos produced/distributed by your company:
Our copies are currently in vhs video format. We would like to convert them to dvd format to be compatible with most of our campus classroom equipment.
We seek your authorization for the conversion. In all cases, we will make only one dvd copy and destoy the video original. Please inform us of your grant of authorization by reply or by separate correspondence. Thank you for your help.
Requests may result in 1) permission, 2) permission at a fee, 3) permission with the option to retain the original at a fee, or 4) referral to their distributor of the dvd at the market rate or at a discount. Whether you choose to follow the results of this permission request depends upon your determination of your fair use.
Section 108 Library Copying
A library or archive can copy "obsolete" format material within their collections. This may be an option for department collections at VCU. This can be done only if certain conditions apply.
- The format is "obsolete" when equipment is no longer manufactured or not readily available in the market.
- A reasonable effort has been made to locate an unused replacement in the desired format at a reasonable price.
- Digital format replacements cannot be accessible outside the library or archive.
For more information, see
- Copyright and Libraries from Bringham Young University.
- Copyright tools to to assist educators with copyright including Exceptions for Instructors, Public Domain Slider, and libariran's Section 108 Spinner from the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy.