Copyrighted Materials: Off-Air Recording of Broadcasts

Institutional Integrity
Distance Learning
(541) 463-3355
Primary Contact: 
Ian Coronado
Contact Email: 
Responsible Executive Authority: 
Chief Information Officer

This procedure describes the practice to be followed within the college with regard to off-air recording of broadcasts. Off-air guidelines are specific and strict and, in order to assure compliance with the law and to protect the college from legal entanglements resulting from potential abuses of others.



Off-air guidelines are specific and strict and, in order to assure compliance with the law and to protect the college from legal entanglements resulting from potential abuses of others, this policy delineates practice and procedure to be followed within the college.

  1. Guideline Compliance.   All off-air recording of television broadcast programming must comply with Copyright Law of the United States of America (Title 17).
  2. Videocassette Compatibility.  All off-air videocassette recordings, whether recorded on college equipment or on personal equipment, must be compatible with college playback equipment (i.e., ½" VHS or 8mm tape).  The instructor, not the college, is responsible for all off-air recording not done by Distance Learning.
  3. Guideline Basics.  The off-air guidelines include the following basics.
    1. A program may be recorded off-air simultaneously with broadcast transmission, including simultaneous cable retransmission, and retained by a non-profit educational institution for 45 calendar days.
    2. Off-air recordings may be used once by individual instructors for relevant teaching activities and may be used once for instructional reinforcement for the same students during the first ten school days of the 45 calendar days.
    3. Off-air recordings may be made only at the request of, and used by, an individual instructor.
    4. After the ten consecutive school days, off-air recordings can be used only for evaluative purposes by the instructor, to the end of the 45 calendar days.
    5. After the 45 calendar day period, all off-air programs will be erased, unless a license is secured or written permission to retain it is received from the copyright owner.
    6. All copies of off-air recordings must include the copyright notice on the broadcast program, as recorded.
  4. The Fair Use Doctrine.
  5. Program Registration.  All off-air programs on videocassettes that are recorded and/or played for educational purposes, at or under the auspices of the college, must be registered in Distance Learning.  A copy of a work order may be secured in Distance Learning.  Information required includes the following:  the title of the program, the day and time recorded and the time the program is to be played for the class.  It should also be indicated if the copyright notice is recorded on videocassette, and whether or not the program can be licensed by the Television Licensing Center, or other source.  The purpose of this form is to insure compliance with the federal guidelines.  The Library will not play or house any off-air videocassette recording without a completed work order on file in Distance Learning (see #7, below).
  6. Compliance Policies.  Instructors should be aware of the following college policies which are necessary to insure compliance with the federal guidelines.
    1. If an instructor wants a videocassette to be retained beyond the 45 calendar day limitation and no license can be secured, a copy of the letter written for permission and a copy of the reply, when received, must be submitted to Distance Learning to be kept with the work order.  The individual instructor is responsible for writing any letters concerning copyright clearance (see #7, below).
    2. All videocassettes for which there is no letter of permission from the copyright owner, or no license, will be erased at the appropriate time.
  7. Instructor Responsibilities.  The basic responsibility of off-air recording by an instructor on  their own equipment belongs to the instructor, and the college assumes no responsibility for any instructional practice for which guideline compliance is violated.  Any off-air videocassette recordings that are played or housed in the Library or in Distance Learning, must be accompanied by a completed work order when the videocassette is submitted to Distance Learning.  The instructor must also assume the responsibility for securing copyright clearance for programs not available for license.  The basic reason is that, since they maintain their own marketing divisions for the programs for which they own copyright, the major broadcast networks rarely grant copyright releases due to commercial reasons.  If one of their programs is desirable beyond the ten school day and 45 calendar day limits, the network will sell the program but not often grant a copyright release.  Therefore, if it cannot be licensed and funds are not available for purchase, it is not generally practical to attempt to secure copyright clearance.  Any such attempt will be the responsibility of the instructor.
  8. Commercial Videocassette Policy.  Prerecorded videocassettes (motion picture) which are purchased from commercial sources by the Library or by Distance Learning, will be used within the college for educational purposes in compliance with Section 111 of the Copyright Law (Public Law 94-553), which requires performance or display of a work by instructors or students to be in face-to-face teaching activities of a non-profit educational institution in a classroom, or a similar place devoted to instruction.  Videocassette purchases of motion pictures will be made only for support of teaching activity within the college.


  1. Congressional Record, October 14, 1981, pp. E4750-4752,   U.S. House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Courts, Civil Liberties and  Administration of Justice;
  2. American Libraries, December 1981, pp.663- 664;
  3. TLC Guide, October 1 1981, Volume II, No. 2, "The Legal Copy",    pp. 1,8.  TLC Guide is published by the Television Licensing Center.
Date Adopted: 
Saturday, May 1, 1999
Date Last Reviewed: 
Sunday, September 1, 2002