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Copyright and Fair Use

Films for Classroom Use

Films and major motion pictures can be used for educational purposes in a classroom setting under Fair Use Guidelines, providing the following conditions are met:

What this means
You use a legally obtained copy of the film You cannot show a version recorded from your television or obtained illegally (bootleg)
Only students enrolled in your course are present Individuals not enrolled in the course cannot be invited or attend
You show a reasonable and limited portion of the film You should not show an entire film. The use of an entire copyrighted work opposes the Fair Use guidelines.
Showing the film is part of regular instruction and directly related to content being taught Films unrelated to instruction cannot be used by teachers to fill time. 
You do not violate the terms of use for your personal account for a streaming service If your Netflix account terms of use prohibit showing their content in public (which they do), you cannot log in to your personal account to show something in class. Check the terms of use for your personal streaming account.
You do not change the format of the film You cannot create a digital version of a film you have on DVD, or vice-versa. Changing the format of a copyrighted work is a violation of copyright in all cases, not just with films.

PBS content recorded from television

A PBS show that you recorded can be shown in the classroom for one year from the date of broadcast. Read PBS's terms for educational use for more information. 

Public Showings of Films

Any situation where a film is shown outside of your home or classroom is considered a public performance. Unless a film is in the public domain, copyright permission must be obtained for all public performances (including documentaries and major motion pictures). 

The requirement to obtain public performance permission applies regardless of whether

  • admission is charged or the event is free
  • admission is limited to campus community or open to the public
  • you own a personal copy of the film
  • you have access to a digital copy of the film
  • you borrow the film from the library

Streaming Videos Available through Library

Streaming Videos for Classroom Use

The Library subscribes to streaming video collections and has licenses for  individual streaming videos that can be used for classes. Streaming videos available through the Library are primarily for classroom or individual use. 

Depending on the platform for the streaming video, you may be able to do the following:

  • show the film in a live setting
  • share a link with your students to view the film independently
  • embed the film in Canvas

Like all other materials the library obtains, we have a collection development policy that guides our decision making when subscribing to or licensing streaming videos. Faculty who want to request a streaming video we do not currently license for use in a class must contact their liaison librarian at least 30 days in advance of when they plan on using the film. Requests for streaming videos will be evaluated according to our collection development policy for streaming videos. 

Streaming Videos for Group Showings or Events

Library streaming videos may not be licensed for public performances. Some collections allow for group viewings outside of a classroom setting as long as no admission is charged and the viewing is limited to RVCC students, faculty, and staff. To see which collections allow for group viewings or public screenings, go to the Public Performance Rights for Film Screenings page.