Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Copyright Law and Converting Media

The copyright law around converting media from VHS to DVD or from a physical medium to digital is complex. We hope this page will help you determine how the law applies to the media you'd like to have converted for a class. We are always happy to discuss your particular situation with you, don't hesitate to write to copyright@pcc.edu.

When is it okay to convert between VHS, DVD, and streaming?

As DVD and online streaming have replaced VHS as the preferred media formats, instructors often wish to convert VHS to one of these formats. Unfortunately, the law does not allow conversion simply because a preferred format has come into use. Likewise, the conversion of VHS or DVD to streaming format is only allowed under certain conditions. Please have a look at the scenarios below and the copyright compliant solutions available.

Scenarios and Solutions:

You want to convert a VHS to DVD or streaming because there is no VCR in your classroom.

Media services will deliver a VHS player when needed. See the Classroom Deliveries form.

The VHS is degrading and you want to create a more lasting copy.

Unfortunately, archival copies like this can only be made when the format is considered obsolete. VHS, though out of favor, is not yet considered obsolete as it is still possible to purchase VHS tapes and players.

What are your options? Whenever possible, the library, department or instructor should purchase a DVD copy of the item. In cases where a DVD copy is unavailable, you can ask the copyright owner for permission to convert the VHS to DVD or streaming format. The Copyright Committee is happy to help you with this. There are some cases where your use might qualify as a Fair Use, especially if you intend to only work with a small, pertinent section of the tape.

You are teaching a fully online class and want to use the material in a way comparable to how you would use it in a physical classroom.

Please review the TEACH Act eligibility page. If your use meets all of the relevant criteria, we would be happy to convert the physical media to streaming format.

You are teaching a face-to-face or hybrid class and want to post the media online.

In this case, conversion is not permitted.

You need to accommodate a student who is Deaf or hard of hearing in a face-to-face, hybrid, or online-only course.

Captioned media for accommodation's sake can be put on Kaltura.

In general, the best thing to do...

Generally speaking, it is best if the library can simply purchase a version of the material in the format you prefer. Feel free to make a purchase request to your Subject Liaison Librarian. Beyond that, much depends on the particulars of your situation. Don't hesitate to drop us a line at copyright@pcc.edu!