A film class needs film. Duh. Close-analysis of film clips is an important part of teaching sections, and nobody wants to mess with scanning DVD chapters to find the right clip. So most TAs I know make clip reels — DVDs of clips — to show in class.
I was interested to see that the Society for Cinema and Media Studies has issued a statement of best practices for fair use (the doctrine that covers this area of copyright law). As far as clip reels are concerned, SCMS has this to say:
It is often necessary for educators to copy excerpts from films, television shows, and other media and include them in compilations or presentations for illustrative purposes. The ability to copy, excerpt and edit, capture stills, and manipulate images and sounds in this way enhances film and media educators’ ability to analyze, critique, and teach media. The community of film and media educators believes that such practices qualify as fair uses of copyrighted works.
It’s nice to have a document to point to, just in case someone gives me a hard time.