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This page covers issues relating to captions for non-Penn State video.

Copyright Considerations

When using a non-Penn State video in a course, copyright law would normally prohibit a developer from adding captions to a video without permission. However if the office of Student Disability Services sends a letter requesting an accommodation of captions on videos (or transcript of audio), then a captioned video must provided to the individual student, but to no one else.

The following are next steps for dealing with a request for a captioned video whose copyright is NOT owned by either Penn State or the instructor.

  1. Purchase or obtain a captioned video from the copyright owner. This is probably easiest for commercial videos. Captioned versions may also be available from the Libraries.
    Note: Online videos may also be captioned. Check any online video for captions.
  2. If a captioned video is not available, then a local copy of the captioned video can be created just for the student needing the accommodation. The copyright owner, if available, MUST be contacted about issue. In some cases, the owner may agree to use a caption file you provide.

Finding a Captioned Video

Commercial Shows for Television

Since the FCC requires captioning for televised programs, these programs often have captions on their DVDs or when provided online via a vendor like iTunes, Hulu Amazon or Netflix.

Note: If an instructor owns a copy of the DVD or VHS without captions, it may be possible to exchange it for newer copy with captions.

Academic Videos

Videos from academic institutions, including some MOOC videos posted online, may also be captioned if their institutions comply with accessibility guidelines. Check online videos for captions.

News Clips

Some online news clips may also be captioned, but if not captioned, the content of the clip may also be in an article. If the information in the article contains the relevant information, it can be given as an alternate source of information.

Finding a Quote or Transcript

If the copyright owner does not provide a captioned video, it may be possible to find a transcript of the audio, or the most relevant part of othe audio online. In some cases, the transcript may be sufficient. Even if a captioned video is required, the transcript will simplify the creation of a captioned video significantly. The following are some possible resources

Obtain a Show Transcript

Some news outlets may post or offer transcripts of their show for sale.

Movie/TV Quotes

If an instructor wishes to show a movie or TV clip to illustrate a point, the actual quote may be posted online in a fan site. Quotes may also be posted on a site like in descriptions of a movie or TV show.

Song Lyric Sites

Lyrics of songs may also be posted on one of many song lyric sites.

Contacting the Copyright Owner

If it is determined that Penn State must make its own version of a captioned video to accommodate a student, then the copyright owner MUST be contacted if possible.

One tip is that you can offer to provide the caption file once it’s completed so the original video is captioned. This can be very effective for many amateur YouTube videos.

 A template permission letter is provided here courtesy of the Dutton e-Education InstituteCollege of Earth and Material Sciences

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