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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

Copyright Resources

Streaming films, DVDs, and video recordings

Streaming a film from your personal Netflix account for classroom instruction

Scenario: An instructor uses their personal Netflix account to stream a film in class.

Fair use? No. When the instructor created their Netflix account, they agreed to Netflix's terms of use, which stipulate that the account is for personal use only. The terms of this agreement trump copyright law. This is not exclusive to Netflix; Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime all have similar stipulations in their respective terms of use. Netflix has released a very limited number of their documentaries for classroom use. Please contact Scottie Kapel,, if you have any questions about whether a Netflix film is available for use in the classroom.

Streaming a film from your personal Netflix account for non-classroom use

Scenario: An instructor wants to host a screening open to the university community of a film on Netflix.

Fair use? No. The same stipulations noted in the previous example apply here.

Streaming a film found through the library catalog for classroom use

Scenario: An instructor streams a film they found through the library catalog for their class.

Fair use? Yes. The streaming films that the library licenses permit classroom viewing. For more information, click the link to the streaming video guide under Additional Resources.

Streaming a film found through the library catalog for non-classroom use

Scenario: An instructor wants to host a screening of a film they found through the library catalog that is open to the university community.

Fair use? It depends; our streaming film vendors permit different types of use. For example, Swank's license states that streaming their films is only permitted for personal or classroom use. They cannot be shown to an open audience. Some Kanopy films, on the other hand, come with limited public performance rights. Please talk to your library liaison (link to library liaison list at the bottom of this box) or Scottie Kapel for questions about screenings of streaming films.

Showing a DVD or video for classroom instruction

Scenario: An instructor wishes to show a copyrighted motion picture to their class for instructional purposes.

Fair use? Yes, since it is for classroom instruction and no admission fee is charged. Tuition and course fees do not constitute admission fees.

Copying a DVD or video for classroom instruction

Scenario: An instructor makes a copy of the videotape described in the previous example for a colleague to show in their class at the same time.

Fair use? No. The instructor may lend their personal copy of the videotape to a colleague for this purpose.

Showing a DVD or video that is in the public domain for non-classroom use

Scenario: An instructor wishes to raise funds for a scholarship. They show a DVD of a motion picture on which the copyright has expired and charge admission fees.

Fair use? Yes. The copyright of the motion picture has expired, which places the motion picture in the public domain.

Showing a DVD or video that is still under copyright for non-classroom use

Scenario: The facts are the same as those in the previous example except that the movie is protected by copyright.

Fair use? No. This infringes on the copyright owner's right to market the work.

Ripping a DVD and posting the film online

Scenario: An instructor is teaching an online class and wants to post a film in Canvas. They only have the DVD, so they rip it and add the content to Canvas.

Fair use? It depends. Is the instructor ripping clips or the entire film? If the former, fair use may apply. If the latter, a fair use defense may be more difficult. This really needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, so talk to your library liaison or Scottie Kapel.