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Randy Cohen, The Ethicist, takes up this question with a sensible response here:


I'm glad you asked that. Educators have a provision that allows them to show films/videos/etc. in the classroom as long as it is for educational purposes and not purely for entertainment. They don't need a public performance license if their use is authorized in 17 U.S.C. 110(1).

The TEACH Act extends the educational exception to a limited extent for distance ed at 110(2).

These classroom provision apply, even if there are warning labels that say HOME USE ONLY.

Also, the FBI warnings apply to people who copy and sell the videos - though they make it appear that that applies to anyone.

On a related note, if a teacher tells us they're checking out a video to show in their classroom, and our public performance license only covers videos shown in our building, are we as the lending library liable for any violations of the public performance laws? Do we need to provide additional "warnings" to the patron, or is the FBI warning on the video itself protecting us?

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