New Copyright Ruling & Movies in Law School

In a previous post, I  listed  the “20 Must See Movies for Law Students” (taken from the National Jurist Magazine.)

According to last week’s new Copyright Office ruling, it is now legal to crack DVDs owned by the  institution or individual for fair use protected teaching activities. (Read the details, here.)

Before the new ruling,  the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) made it illegal to rip portions of DVDs by bypassing the copy-protection code on a disc unless the user qualified for a special exemption given in 2006 to film professors.  Professors had to scan the whole DVD for relevant scenes or search for selected clips on

This new ruling means that law faculty can legally extract movie clips and incorporate them into lectures. The exemption also allows them to use ripped content in non-classroom settings, such as conference presentations.

Using a movie as an educational tool is a popular practice.  There are many films about lawyers and the law that can illustrate a variety of legal concepts and practices.  For example, in the article entitled “How I Learned to Litigate at the Movies,” five lawyers share their movie secrets. The Best Practices blog also discusses using law films in the classroom. Some films obviously portray the legal environment realistically, others are just plain comedy. Either way, it will be easier to integrate them into the curriculum. 

Here are some lists of  Top Law Related Movies:

(It should be noted that K-12 teachers and students are  ineligible for this new  exemption, and they instead can use only screen captures of a film.)


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