What if a video is copyrighted, can I caption it for educational use?

“Fair use” is a legal stipulation that allows copyrighted materials to be captioned without direct permission from the owner. When a video is not captioned but needs to be for educational purposes, captioning the video is generally considered fair use.

The U.S. Copyright Office’s final ruling (83 FR 54010) outlines the ability for educational institutions to caption a video that may be copyrighted under the following conditions:

  • The organization must be a K-12 or postsecondary institution and is responsible for providing access to students with disabilities under applicable accessibility laws (i.e., ADA, Section 504, or IDEA).The school must make a reasonable effort to determine whether an existing accessible version can be obtained for a fair price or in a timely manner.
  • The media captioned by or for the school must be privately stored and only shared with necessary parties such as students and educators. Uploading captioned versions to a private YouTube channel or embed in the Learning Management System (LMS) are examples of ways to secure a video
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Updated on January 26, 2023

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