Can a lecturer take clips from DVDs and put them in the VLE for students to access and use as part of their learning?


Uploading a video clip to the VLE, and making it available to students, are both copyright-controlled acts – meaning that if the institution is not the copyright owner, it must either get the copyright owner’s permission, or rely on one of the exceptions to copyright.

The law has recently (June 1st 2014) changed to allow more flexible use of media for educational purposes.

  • you can put copies of clips in the VLE  provided the purpose is limited to ‘illustration for instruction’, and the copying is ‘fair’ (in that it does not negatively impact on the market for the original work). This is S.32 (illustration for educational purposes) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. 
  • restricting access to the learners who are enrolled on the particular course (i.e. by using password-protected access) will support the contention that the use is ‘fair’
  • the use must be non-commercial and sufficiently acknowledged (i.e. correctly referenced)
  • if you own the copyright in the video clip (i.e. it is one you’ve created yourself, without third party material) use in the VLE is likely to be fine
  • if the viewing access is restricted to students within the UK, then you can use clips from Box of Broadcasts (BoB)
  • if a licence is available for the content you want to use (e.g. ERA+) then you must comply with the terms of the licence
  • ERA/BoB recordings can be viewed both on and off campus, within the UK
  • for non-ERA content, an educational establishment can record & use broadcasts both inside and outside the UK

To find out more about finding copyright-free media, check the Copyright for Lecturers page of the Copyright Guide. 

The S.32 exception also allows for clips from commercial DVDs to be accessed by distance learners via a password-protected VLE – they may be subject to copyright restrictions in their own countries, and the clip would be subject to fair dealing amounts, proper acknowledgement, genuine use for illustration, etc.

However, digital rights management remains unchanged. Digital rights tools are added by publishers to manage and protect their publications e.g. audio-visual works, and circumventing DRM is still a copyright infringement. If bypassed, for example for the purposes of making an accessible copy, the institution must try to reinstate the original protection – if reasonable (i.e. doing so wouldn’t make it inaccessible again).


  • Last Updated May 15, 2023
  • Views 305
  • Answered By Elaine Pocklington

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