Off-Air Recordings

Educational Use of Off-Air Recording Form - Teachers may fill out this form and keep it with their off-air recordings in order to document their compliance with U.S. Copyright Law. The form assists teachers in determining and keeping track of periods covered by "fair use."

Key Points Regarding Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming (U.S. House Report 97-495) - These "fair use" guidelines apply only to non-profit educational institutions.
  • Off-air recordings can only be made for "broadcast programs," which are defined as "television programs transmitted by televised stations for reception by the general public without charge." In other words, these guidelines apply to our local stations such as KFMB, KGTV, KPBS, KNSD, KUSI, KSWB. The guidelines do not cover fair use of content from cable television networks such A&E, Discovery, or the History Channel. For cable network content, you must check with the educational use policies of the particular network.
  • Off-air recordings may only be retained for 45 consecutive calendar days (including weekends and holidays) after the date of the recording. After this time period, the recordings must be "erased or destroyed immediately."
  • Off-air recordings may only be shown to students during the first 10 consecutive school days (not including weekends and holidays) of the 45-day period. The recordings may only be "used once by individual teachers in the course of relevant teaching activities, and repeated once only when instructional reinforcement is necessary." During the remaining time of the 45-day period, teachers may not use the video for students; they may only use recordings for "teacher evaluation purposes, i.e., to determine whether or not to include the broadcast program in the teaching curriculum."
  • Teachers may show excerpted segments from off-air recordings, but the "recorded programs may not be altered from their original content. Off-air recordings may not be physically or electronically combined or merged to constitute teaching anthologies or compilations."
  • NOTE: Some networks and/or producers provide more customized guidelines regarding use or recorded content. PBS, for instance, has been able to negotiate extended recording rights for teachers on a program-by-program basis. When in doubt, check with a particular network.
SourceReproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians (U.S. Copyright Office) - This detailed resource covers use of materials from photocopying materials from books or periodicals to recording of music, television, and movies.