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Department Publications

“That Question Comes Up a Lot…”

[The first installment in an occasional series that offers answers to questions commonly posed to the Office of General Counsel.]

I would like to show a movie in my class, but the college does not own it. Do I have to get permission?
A film, including one that is on a commercially-produced tape or DVD, may be shown in a class without obtaining prior permission of the copyright holder. This is true not only for videos owned by the college, but also for videos owned by another person, such as the instructor, a student, or even a video rental store.

The law does impose several conditions, however, before the film may be shown. First, the videotape or DVD should be one that is commercially produced. An unauthorized copy of the film may not be used.

Additionally, the film may be presented without prior permission of the copyright holder only in a face-to-face instructional setting.

Transmission of the film via the Internet or similar means would require prior permission of the copyright holder. Such a context would not be “face-to-face” teaching activities as contemplated by copyright law.

This exception to the law allowing the film to be shown in face-to-face instruction does not permit unauthorized copies of the film to be made for distribution to students.

Moreover, the exception would not apply to performances of the film in other campus locations. Showing the film to students in a student union or similar setting, for example, would require prior permission as well.

Can one of our student organizations run a raffle on campus for the college community?

Arizona’s criminal code has long held that many forms of gambling are illegal. That code defines gambling as “one act of risking or giving something of value for the opportunity to obtain a benefit from a game or contest of chance or skill or a future contingent event . . . .” Typically, a raffle meets this definition.

Moreover, the law makes the promotion of gambling, as well as benefiting from gambling, criminal conduct.

The criminal code expressly allows certain types of nonprofit corporations to conduct raffles under conditions the statute prescribes. Those organizations include: labor, agricultural or horticultural organizations; fraternal beneficiary societies or orders; religious, charitable, literary, or educational nonprofit corporations; business leagues or chambers of commerce; civic leagues or organizations; recreational clubs; teacher or public employee retirement fund organizations; or religious or apostolic organizations.

As neither a community college district nor a college student organization is a nonprofit corporation under the law, they would not qualify for this statutory exemption.

Current practice allows many forms of lawful activities that student organizations may utilize in an effort to raise funds for scholarships or club activities.

Conducting a raffle for such purposes, however, poses the risk of running afoul of Arizona’s criminal code.

Does a student’s parent have the right to look at that student’s college records?

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a student at a postsecondary institution has the right to inspect his or her education records, seek an amendment to those records, and authorize the release of the records to a third party.
FERPA grants these rights to the college or university student regardless of the student’s age. Accordingly, it is typically the student—and not the parent—who holds rights under FERPA to records maintained by the institution.

The law does allow, however, a college or university to enact a policy that would afford many parents access to records concerning their college student son or daughter.

Such a policy (which is in effect at all of the colleges within Maricopa) allows the institution to disclose—without the student’s prior permission—personally identifiable information out of education records to a parent who has established the student’s status as a dependent under the Internal Revenue Code.

Published in the Winter 2006 Edition of In Brief

Questions or comments?
Contact Lee Combs @ 480.731.8878

Maricopa Community Colleges
Office of General Counsel
2411 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281-6942
480.731.8877 / 480.731.8890 fax

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