Skip to Main Content

Showing a film or video in-person

The right to show a film or video during in-person instruction is protected as part of copyright law (17 U.S. Code § 110). Instructors may show a video:

  1. During face-to-face instruction
  2. When viewed in a classroom or other place of instruction
  3. With a lawfully made copy*
  4. As a regular part of instruction and directly related to content being taught

*In general, a “lawfully made copy” is a purchased DVD or download. It generally does not include personal subscription services like Netflix or Hulu etc. Most subscription services specifically prohibit showing movies in a public venue as part of their user agreements though Netflix does allow for the showing of certain documentaries in class.

Streaming films and videos in D2L courses

Streaming films and video in D2L courses are generally allowed in any of the following circumstances:

  • Showing only portions (clips) of the film needed for educational purposes;
  • the work is in the public domain;
  • the copyright holder has given permission (contact your librarian for help getting permission);
  • the instructor is the copyright holder;
  • there is a public performance or a streaming license associated with the work;

Showing an entire film online may or may not constitute fair use and instructors will need to carefully consider the four factors of fair use in making that determination. Factors favoring fair use could include a strong pedagogical purpose for showing the entire film (only showing the whole film if 100% necessary); recontextualizing the whole film through readings, commentary, criticism, and student discussions; limiting access to only students enrolled in the course; posting a copyright notice; etc.

However, linking to clips or posting short excerpts is preferable for online instruction.

Also consider linking to streaming content students can independently access. Check the below sites to find out where films are available for streaming:

Free Streaming Videos