According to U.S. copyright law, any produced work, including videos, is automatically copyrighted from the moment of its creation, meaning that in order to distribute the work to others, you must seek out permission from the creator. More and more videos, however, are being made freely and legitimately available online to anyone who wishes to watch them.
Best Practices for Searching for Videos for Class Content:
1. Try the sites that you know follow copyright law first. Sites like Hulu.com, nytimes.com, or an original publisher's site (NBC.com, nytimes.com, pbs.com, etc.) make their own material available.
2. If you already have a video in mind that you would like to use, try going to the publisher's website to see if it's posted there. If you go through the process of trying to get permission for the video and can't, attempt to find similar material that IS freely available. More and more educational material is available online.
3. If you find a professional video that you would like to share with your students on an intermediary site, such as Youtube.com, blip.tv, etc., look for a Creative Commons license on the page. If you can't find one, go to the website of the original publisher (for a CBS news program, for instance, go to CBS.com), and see if they make their own materials available from their site.
Creative Commons is a licensing organization that allows creators of content (photographers, video producers, musicians) to specify the terms under whichthey are willing to share their work. Anything with a creative commons license is available for free viewing.
See all their licensing options here, and learn the icons that go with each restriction.
If you come across a piece of media that you would like to use for your class, look carefully on the page to see if there are any notices about distributing the work. Also look for the Creative Commons licensing to see if the creator might be willing to share his or her work freely:As you're searching Creative Commons, please do note that, once you've navigated away from the Creative Commons site, you should check to make sure the content you find is under a CC license. Some of the sites also have materials that are under full copyright. Browse through this list, or search for content under Creative Commons licenses.
The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive includes millions of documents and websites and thousands of searchable videos. All material on the site is freely-available for use and distribution.
FORA includes videos on all kinds of social topics, mostly dealing with current events. PLEASE NOTE: While most of this content does fall into the territory of legal distribution, the content is user-generated, and the site operators cannot control for mistakes. Make sure to just be extra diligent about checking up on the material found here.