Using Film in Courses: FAQs

Refer to this guide when you have questions about using films in your online or face to face courses at Portland State University

FAQ for frequently asked questions regarding films for classes

Scenario Solution
There is a film I’d like to show in class (face to face) Please check the library catalog to see if we have the DVD or streaming. If we do NOT own it, please contact your liaison librarian to place a request. (DVDs are still preferred for in class viewing due to price and duration of availability)  
I would like to assign viewing to my students to watch a film outside of class

If you need the film in streaming format, search for the film in on our Streaming Film page to see if we have it from one of our vendors. If available, provide the catalog link or proxied link to the students.

If you don’t see the film you’d like, and you need to stream it, contact your liaison librarian for information.  

If the film is only available as a DVD, you may place it on course reserve for students to check out. You may fill out a request form, or contact
I was browsing the Kanopy site and found a film that I’d like to assign for viewing for an online class, what now? Kanopy licenses last for one year. If we have a current license, it will indicate in the library catalog when it expires. If you found a film on that you would like to assign, check access to the film. If it says “this film is not available at your library yet”, please contact the library directly to request the library purchase a one year license. We are glad to do so under some circumstances. Preference is given for online only courses.
Can I show films from my Netflix/Hulu /Amazon Prime, etc. account? No. Generally, as a subscriber to these services, you have agreed to terms and conditions that specify personal use only. You can encourage students to use their own accounts to watch these films on their own, assuming they have such accounts already.
Can I show films from YouTube?  YouTube can be problematic for several reasons. However, linking to YouTube is okay if it’s for class view or a link in Canvas, but please attribute the creator, and don’t use a video you think may be an illegal copy. Also be aware that it may not be there forever, it may be poor quality, and may or may not have closed captioning.
Can I show films in the student lounge or outside of class?

It depends.

Some of our vendors license films with PPR (public performance rights). If your film is from Kanopy (not in all cases), Academic Video Online (excluding Film Platform titles), or Films on Demand, you CAN! If your film is not from one of these services (or you can’t tell where it’s from), please contact the library to inquire about the film’s terms and conditions.

Generally a DVD you borrow from the library does NOT have PPR, and you will need to make arrangements/pay for permissions. 

Can I play films in Zoom classes? 

Please see the box on the Policy & Options page of this guide for a more detailed explanation, but some providers allow streaming of their licensed content in a live Zoom session. However, if you are recording the session, you are not allowed that permission. Provider restrictions can vary, so contact the library if you have questions. 

Other questions? 

Please refer to the copyright guide on the library’s website for information about teaching with other copyrighted material for some handy information:

Contact your liaison librarian if you have other questions that aren’t answered here.

DVDs in online courses

Can I stream DVDs for my online classes?

Under the TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002), copyrighted materials may be used in electronic formats for online instruction under rare circumstances. The library will work with instructors to make reasonable and limited portions of a film available for online instruction available in compliance with this Act.

Library policy is to purchase streaming licenses to any film that needs to be streamed for course viewing. 

Please be advised that the library will only digitize portions of a DVD under the following circumstances:

  • The film is unavailable in any streaming format

  • The library was unable to contact the film distributor or film maker for explicit permission

  • Your course is offered online only

  • The course instructor can provide, in writing, a detailed pedagogical purpose for showing segments of the film (no other film content will suffice to reach this teaching goal)

  • The film segments will be available only to students enrolled in the course, authenticated via their Odin account from the course page for which they are currently enrolled

  • The instructor's course page carries a visible notice that items on this page contain copyrighted material

  • The film will be available for a limited time, typically a 2 week window to coincide with assigned viewing. 

This is a rare occurrence and requires a great deal of advanced planning to ensure compliance. Please allow 2 weeks to a month for such requests. If you have further questions, or need to make such a request, please contact your liaison librarian. For more information, please see the excellent explanation from UNC for Copyright in the Online Classroom

Laws and compliance:

Fair Use (17 USC §107)

The TEACH Act (USC §110(2))

TEACH Act compliance checklist from ASU

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA (17 USC §1201)