Digital Media Services

Hosting Media Online


Information provided on this site are guidelines and are not official UW/UWB policy. Please use this information at your own discretion.




Uploading/Downloading media for academic purposes.

If the media you plan to upload is 100% your own original creation you have every right to upload it online without restriction.

If you plan to upload media (movies, images and music) not originally created by you, even a second of footage, there could potentially be copyright protection issues and you could be subject to all the penalties that comes with that protection. The University of Washington does not have a dedicated policy on the use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes. That being said, places outside the University may have severe consequences for uploading/downloading copyrighted material onto/from the internet.

Where Do I Stand as Faculty, Staff or Student?

DVD’s and VHS - “Between now and 2015, it will be legal to rip a DVD “in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) in noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators.” A similar exemption applies for “online distribution services.”

Source: Educause Blog on DMCA Exemptions

Using Media in the Classroom - For the most part, using legally acquired media in the classroom is permitted up to a certain point. However, there may be limitations when using copyrighted materials in the classroom so it is important to check with your departmental librarian.

Downloading and Using Media From the Internet - According to current copyright rules the act of downloading copyrighted materials from the internet is not allowed. It is also an act of copyright infringement when you share the material(s) in class. The University of Washington Bothell cannot support or aid in the act of downloading copyrighted media from the internet for academic purposes.

For those who are interested in legally available media, we have a large collection of Creative Commons links (i.e. copyright free).

Fair Use - What is Fair Use? Fair Use is the use of copyrighted/non-copyrighted materials from the web, media (Video, Images, and Music) as supplemental material for educational projects. Laws very on the issue of fair use and it is important to read up on current fair use guidelines - - is a great place to start.

How to Play it Safe?


One of the only ways to be safe when using  someone else's media is to write them a letter asking them to grant you rights to use it. This is not as complicated as you might think! A number of online resources, such as Youtube and Vimeo, allow you to contact the owners directly.

It is important to disclose the following information to the individual if you wish to use their media.

  • Your Name
  • The type of project you will be making
  • Will your project be for profit? In most cases people will say no unless they are paid for their material.

  • How long will this project remain online?

  • It is best to build a report with the creator as they will be more inclined to let you use their materials in the future.

  • Will you be using this project outside of the University or after you graduate? - If the answer is yes: Once you leave the University all copyrighted material you used will no longer fall under educational use.

Anytime you quote from a book you are required to cite the author or it is considered plagiarism. Media is no different, it is your responsibility to give credit to all the sources you used to give credit to the actual author.

Sometimes authors will make work with the intention of allowing others to use it. It is called Creative Commons and there are a number of websites online offering free media to use for projects. It is highly recommended, if you plan to put your video on Youtube or Vimeo, that you only utilize creative commons works. One thing to note, there are various types of Creative Commons works so be mindful of the license attached to the particular piece of media you are planning to using.

What Can’t I Host Online Via the Major Video Hosting Sites (Youtube and Vimeo)?

  • Media in a full unaltered state.

    • Movies
    • TV Shows
    • Music - Full Song
    • Images
    • Media that was created by another individual

These websites do not differentiate between Fair Use for educational purposes and Re-distribution of copyrighted materials for personal/public viewing.

Here are the current guidelines for YouTube and Vimeo.

Note: Because Youtube and Vimeo are non-university run websites it is often harder/impossible to make a fair use claim when using copyrighted material in your projects.

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YouTube Guidelines

This section covers the content that is not allowed to be uploaded to YouTube, as well as the consequences that can occur if you are found violating these restrictions.

What Can You Upload?

  1. Non profit/educational use of material has a better chance of being fair use than commercial use of material.
  2. Using material for non-fictional work has a better chance of being fair use than using it for fictional work.
  3. Using smaller portions of material from an original work has a better chance of being fair use than using large portions.
  4. If you are profiting from the work using someone else’s original material it is less likely to be fair use.

Important note from YouTube:

“I purchased or recorded the content myself. Why was it removed? Just because you purchased content doesn't mean that you own the rights to upload it to YouTube. Even if you give the copyright owner credit, posting videos that include content you purchased may still violate copyright law. Additionally, recording a television show, video game, concert or other performance with your phone, camera or microphone doesn't mean that you own all rights to upload it to YouTube. This is true even if the event or show you recorded was open to the public. For example, recording a concert of your favorite band does not necessarily give you the right to reproduce and distribute the video without permission from the appropriate rights owners.”

Source: YouTube copyright FAQ

What Are the Consequences of Copyright Infringement on YouTube?

“On YouTube, the consequences of copyright infringement are simple. We comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other applicable copyright laws. Under these laws, we remove videos when properly notified that they violate copyright. If we receive a valid infringement notification identifying videos in your account, they will be removed and you will receive a strike. If you receive three strikes, your YouTube account will be terminated. At time of termination, all your other videos will be removed and you will be permanently blocked from creating new accounts or accessing YouTube's community features in the future. In addition, copyright owners may choose to sue for infringement. In the U.S., copyright infringement may result in statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work and, in some cases, criminal penalties.”

Source: YouTube copyright FAQ

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Vimeo Guidelines

This section covers the content that is restricted when using Vimeo, as per their terms of service.

Content Restrictions

  1. You may not upload, post, or transmit (collectively, "submit") any video, image, text, audio recording, or other work (collectively, "content") that:
  2. Infringes any third party's copyrights or other rights (e.g., trademark, privacy rights, etc.);
  3. Contains sexually explicit content or pornography (provided, however, that non-sexual nudity is permitted);
  4. Contains hateful, defamatory, or discriminatory content or incites hatred against any individual or group;
  5. Exploits minors - images of people under the age of 18.
  6. Depicts unlawful acts or extreme violence;
  7. Depicts animal cruelty or extreme violence towards animals;
  8. Promotes fraudulent schemes, multi level marketing (MLM) schemes, get rich quick schemes, online gaming and gambling, cash gifting, work from home businesses, or any other dubious money-making ventures; or
  9. Violates any law.
  10. All videos you submit must also comply with our Uploading Guidelines, which are incorporated into this Agreement. If you are a Vimeo PRO user, you must comply with our Vimeo PRO Guidelines.

Source: Vimeo Terms of Service

Vimeo also follows DMCA law.

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Fair Use and Hosting Media Internally

This section contains information on fair use guidelines at the University of Washington and how the United States Government determines what falls under fair use. 

University Of Washington

UW Fair use policies: It is important to note that fair use policies are still somewhat vague and can change on a case-to-case basis. For this reason UW has no official fair use policy.

“Few guidelines have been established to define the extent of fair use and even fewer have emerged to address the complex questions of digital fair use. This is largely due to the wide variety of copyrightable works and the new ways these works may be used in the academic setting. The guidelines provided in the following sections have been developed from a variety of sources external to the University of Washington and do not address every situation that may arise. UW has not adopted official guidelines for determining fair use.”

Source: The University of Washington's Fair Use Guidelines

Canvas, Google Drive and Tegrity all considered property of the University. Thus, internally hosted, private, media shared via these services is generally non-restrictive. Media made available to the public via these services could be subject to copyright infringement.

For information on how to upload media into Canvas, visit our tutorial for sharing media on Canvas.

Here are some more helpful links describing Fair Use and Copyright at the University of Washington.  


CopyRight.GOV and Copyright in the United States

This is how the United States government has determined what is potentially fair use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

They go on to say that there is no distinction of what is fair use. There is not set amount of chords (music) or frames (video and images) that will determine what is safe. In other words fair use is very blurry set of boundaries. Also giving credit to the source does not mean that your media is now fair use. The safest thing you could do is get the authors permission to use their work.

One last thing to keep in mind is if you are actually transforming the material you are using to create something unique. There is a better chance that will be an original creation compared to only using something to maintain or reinforce it’s original creators intent. Create something new out of original material will more likely fall under the fair use law even though it is not a guarantee.

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