YouTube and Jordan School District Policy

[On Thursday I was asked to write this, the first essay I've ever written for work. As online video becomes more prevalent in educational settings and elsewhere, leaders within our district have struggled to form related policy - particularly when it comes to copyright (you should know going in that our district has one of the strictest copyright policies I've ever seen). What follows was my attempt to explain the issues as I have come to know them, borrowing heavily from ideas shared by Stephen Downes and others when we discussed this issue as it related to blogging etiquette last May.

In the end, I'm not sure how well I have done here (particularly given that I only had an hour to throw this together) but would greatly appreciate any feedback you'd be willing to share with me.]

In-Class Use of YouTube Videos

In connection with the Engaged Classroom professional development opportunity, we would like to share “model” lessons of how technology can be used to teach the curriculum. One particularly powerful piece of technology that can be used for educational purposes is the use of online video for instruction. YouTube is currently the industry standard in user-generated video distribution. Therefore, we think it only reasonable to allow the use of educationally sound YouTube content under controlled circumstances within the classroom. In this brief paper, we will elaborate and show that such behavior is within the confines of current district policy.

YouTube’s Copyright Policy

According to YouTube’s terms of service1, videos that are uploaded to the site are to be free of copyrighted materials. Expressly:

By clicking "Upload Video," you are representing that this video does not violate YouTube's Terms of Use and that you own all copyrights in this video or have authorization to upload it.

As YouTube regularly monitors the content on their site for copyright infringements, one can only assume that users have followed the rules in respecting copyright. For an ever-growing list of videos that have been removed from YouTube for alleged copyright violations, please visit, a project conducted by researchers out of MIT.

Jordan School District Copyright Policy

Jordan School District has one of the most rigid policies on copyright in the entire state of Utah2. Nonetheless, if a teacher follows a few simple guidelines, the use of YouTube videos for educational purposes within a closed, classroom setting, never violates the JSD policy on copyright.

The following policies on copyright relate directly to our current situation:
Policy number DE505, IV, D. Internet Resources

1. Assume all materials on the Internet are copyrighted unless otherwise stated and that existing copyright guidelines apply. When in doubt, obtain written permission from the copyright holder.

2. When using information from the Internet, follow the Fair Use guidelines and properly cite all Internet resources.

Policy number DE505, IV, I. Web Page Publishing, 1. Permissible:

a. When using material from other Web sites, permission should be obtained from the copyright holder, and all sources must be properly cited.
Guideline for teachers in online video use:
  • Cite all Internet resources
  • Assume all materials are copyrighted unless otherwise stated. In YouTube’s case, we have done that (see above).
Policy number DE505, IV, F, 3. Prohibited:

c. Using videos that have not been previewed for applicability and appropriateness by the school principal and/or the principal's designee (an administrator, secondary licensed media specialist, or licensed educator).

Policy number DE505, IV, F, 1. Ratings Guidelines:

e. Non-rated videos/DVDs must be reviewed for applicability to core curriculum, content, and appropriateness for student use. The school principal and/or the principal's designee (an administrator, secondary licensed media specialist, or licensed educator) must review the video/DVD and make a ratings recommendation. Based on the recommendation, the school principal gives final approval for use of a non-rated video/DVD in a school. A written verification of review and approval for each non-rated video/DVD must remain on file at the school location.
Guideline for teachers in online video use:
  • Have your principal or their designee preview and approve all designated online content.
  • Create a district-standard form for such approvals.
Policy number DE505, VI. Definition of Fair Use

While authors are given certain specific rights, some limitations have been put on those rights. The courts use the following four criteria to determine Fair Use:

A. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.

B. The nature of the copyrighted work.

C. The amount and substantiality (extent) of the portion used in relationship to the copyrighted work as a whole.

D. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Guideline for teachers in online video use:
  • Online content can only be used for educational, non-commercial purposes.

As additional quality, educational content becomes increasingly available online, closer attention should be given in the creation of related policy. Furthermore, to infer that showing a video from Youtube in class is outside of current JSD copyright policy is simply not accurate as there are tens of thousands of educationally appropriate, non-copyrighted materials on YouTube. Additionally, there exist thousands of other materials licensed under Creative Commons licenses3 - which state that not only is it OK to show these videos but that others can share, remix, and reuse the materials, if they so desire.

Special thanks to Kelly Dumont for lending a hand with this, as well.

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