Database Contributor Guidelines

Please read prior to data entry and/or uploading files (07/2018)

This is a rudimentary set of guidelines to get you started as a contributor to the database. The guidelines are not comprehensive and will be added to as we discover parts of the process that don’t seem intuitive. If you have questions or suggested additions or changes to the guidelines, please share them with Chris Lewis,

The principal developers of the site and the authors of these guidelines are not lawyers but are librarians who have grappled with copyright laws in relation to video formats since the VHS era. Their interpretations of Section 108 may not reflect your own so you are encouraged to check in with your institution’s legal counsel if you have doubts about any of the contents.

Basics of Section 108

Section 108 permits libraries that own a physical copy of a work to make a preservation copy of that work provided these conditions are met:

  • The original work is lost, damaged, stolen, deteriorating, or in an obsolete format.
  • The owning library has conducted a reasonable search for an unused copy, at a fair price.
Can I duplicate VHS tapes?

Yes. Based on the fact that players are no longer manufactured and commercial distribution of tapes stopped ten years ago, VHS is an obsolete format. Additionally research shows that magnetic tapes of that age are also a deteriorating medium so they can be digitized to protect the content from loss.

What constitutes a reasonable search?

The developers of the database determined that a reasonable search consists of:

  • The catalog/website of the original publisher/distributor of the video (such as Women Make Movies, Icarus, Bullfrog, etc.)
  • Worldcat – to gather information about whether a DVD been has ever been in distribution and by whom
  • A general web search for the title and producer name

If a search of these resources does not return information on new copies for purchase, it is reasonably safe to assume the title is no longer in commercial distribution. Some distributors retain rights to back catalogs but do not list those titles in current title listings. If in doubt, communication directly with the distributor can confirm ongoing availability.

What constitutes a fair price?

The fair price clause is vague and undefined in the law and we know of no cases where a distributor’s pricing has been judged unfair. We believe that a decision to make a preservation copy should not be predicated solely on this clause. There is a much more obvious case for VHS videotapes to be preserved because they are a deteriorating and obsolete format.

Other major considerations

My search located a new VHS copy, or a single DVD copy from a 3rd party seller. Does this meet the requirement for an unused copy?

For VHS: No. Since VHS is an obsolete and deteriorating format, a new copy in VHS would also be obsolete and deteriorating.

For DVD: A single new copy of a no-longer-distributed DVD release may meet your library’s need for a replacement copy, but probably wouldn’t be considered to be currently in distribution. This is a judgment call.

My VHS isn’t available on DVD but is available to be licensed for streaming, do I have a right to make a preservation copy of the VHS tape?

The answer depends on the terms of the license.

  • Yes - if the video is only available with a limited term license (for instance, one to five years). A term license is the equivalent of a rental lease not a deed of ownership.
  • No – If there is an in-perpetuity (or life-of-format) license option. An in-perpetuity license can be considered equivalent to ownership if you have control over both the file and the server OR if the agreement specifies terms for transfer of digital files to locally controlled servers on request.
The VHS title was later released in DVD format but then went out of distribution in that format also, can I digitize the VHS tape?

In most cases, yes. If the content can no longer be obtained in a current format then it can be preserved for access by your users.

Exception: Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act breaking copy protections is prohibited except in specific cases which at present don’t include preservation, this encompasses all commercially-sold DVDs and also those few VHS titles that were produced with Macrovision anti-copy encoding.

The VHS copy is in NTSC format but available replacement DVDs are only in PAL format.

This is a judgment call. Because a PAL copy cannot be played on a region 1 NTSC player, it would not seem to be equivalent to an NTSC DVD and the VHS could be preserved in NTSC format. However if the original VHS was also in PAL format, then a PAL DVD would be an equivalent replacement.

The VHS copy has subtitles or closed-captions and the available replacement DVDs do not.

Section 108 protects your right to preserve the copy you legally acquired including any technical features.

Guidelines for data entry in the database.

The database is open for public viewing. Only registered users may add records to the database.

1. Log into

Log in link is located in the top right corner of the screen.

Log in form showing the Username and Password field prompts.

2. Check to see if the video is already in the database:

Go to "Title Listings" > "All Titles".

All Titles page showing a title search for "focused" with a single search result.

3. If the title is already in the database:

  • Click on the title to open the database record
  • Click on the "My institution owns this!" button

The "My Institution owns this!" button is located on the record display page underneath the Bibliographic Information for the title.

At this point you can enter your local call number or other identifying information and notes for later referral. This field is not required but may be useful to you going forward.

Optional local information form to input library information for each title.

Do NOT add another record for the same version of a title.

4. If the title is not already in the database, go to "Title Listings" > "Add Title"and proceed.

Add Title link is in the main menu under "Title Listings".

5. Follow these guidelines:


  • Capitalize the first word of the title, the series title, and proper names. Subtitles should not have the first word capitalized unless it’s a proper name.
  • Add initial articles (e.g. a, an, the der, die, les, le, la) at the end of the title, following a comma. (Example: Godfather, the NOT: The Godfather). Articles that have been relocated to the end should not be capitalized.
  • If a video contains two separate works with different titles, capitalize the first word of each. Separate the titles with a semicolon.


Enter the distributor of the video in hand if known. Sometimes this will be the same information as Publisher/Producer in the next field.


  • Always include a date.
  • If publication and copyright dates differ, enter the earliest one.
  • With the inclusion of date, distributor name, and producer names there will likely be little confusion among programs with identical titles.


Select one of the radio buttons. Most titles will be VHS.


If known or available.

Local Identifier:

Your local call number or other information. This field is not required but may be useful to you going forward.

6. Click “Save” to go to the next screen.

The Save button is at the bottom of the add record form.

7. Log the searches you conducted for each title.

Search links are on the record display under both the Bibliographic Information and the "My institution owns this!" button.

  • Include as many as you think were adequate to determine the video is no longer in distribution.
  • At minimum, searches should include the distributor, Amazon, and WorldCat.
  • It is not necessary to conduct every search for which there is a link in the online form.
  • Record the WorldCat record for your holding of the title. This serves in part as a record of your ownership of the title; ownership is required to invoke Section108 for making a preservation copy.

8. If you have already digitized a video that you have logged, you are encouraged to include that information in the note field. This is useful for another library to be aware of in case they need to find a replacement for a damaged or lost copy.

Uploading and Downloading Files

Uploading/downloading preservation files to the site restricted to ALVT members.

Members of ALVT can upload video files for videos in their collection. Files must be access-quality videos no more than 4GB per file.


1. Once you are logged in, select a video record and click the link to “Upload a video file” in the left-hand column under the Video Downloads section.

"Upload a video file" link is on the left side of the screen.

2. Fill out the Video Length and Video Format fields, and select the video file to upload. The filename will be changed to standardized format once the video is uploaded.

Add a video file form.

The video file will begin uploading once you select it or drag it into the box. A progress bar will begin to show how long it will take to upload your file. If the upload is interrupted, then a resume button will appear. Click it to continue the upload. Once uploading is finished you can Save your record.

The uploading a video field.

3. Optionally, fill out the Notes field. You can use the Notes field to indicate volume number (for multipart videos) or technical information about the video quality. Examples include:

  • Part 1
  • Parts 5 - 6
  • Part 3, City of Promise - Video has color balance issues
  • Video is damaged at 30 min.

4. Click the Save button to complete the form.

Once you have saved the form, the ALVT website will take you back to the video entry and confirm that the video has been uploaded. You can see the video information under the Video Downloads section.

If an error occurred while saving the form or uploading the file, an error message will appear instead, and the website will return you to the Add a Video File page.


To download the file, click the “Download Video” link. There will be a link on this page for the file. Right click the link and select “Save Link As...” to save the video file.

Download file by right-clicking on the link and selecting "Save Link As" or the browser equivalent.

Updating a Record

To replace, update, or delete the entry, click on the Edit tab. This page will look like the original upload page.

Make the changes you want, then click the Save button. The Remove button next to the Video field will remove the existing video file and allow you to upload a new video.

To delete the entry, click the Delete button.

The Delete button is next to to the Save button at the bottom of the edit page.

After you click Delete, you will be asked to confirm that you wish to delete the file. Click Delete again.

A delete button and cancel link are on the Delete confirmation screen.