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Research Guides

Video & Streaming Video: Using Streaming Video in Courses

Information on finding and using video and streaming video at the UW Libraries

Streaming Policy Summary

The UW Libraries supports the curricular streaming needs of the university.  However, the high cost of streaming videos combined with budget constraints requires some limits on what the Libraries is able to provide. The policy for acquiring streaming rights may be adjusted from quarter to quarter based on funding. We ask that you use the Libraries’ existing collections before requesting the rights to stream new titles. We also provide a brief explanation of relevant copyright principles. This explanation should not be interpreted as legal advice. Instructors should decide which option is most appropriate based on their pedagogical needs.  

Request for Streaming

Service: The UW Libraries supports curricular-based streaming video as best as we can given budget constraints, restrictive vendor licensing terms, high costs (It will cost the library approximately $150 to $600 to rent a film for one year), and the need for equitable distribution of streaming across departments.

Criteria: We will acquire streaming rights for courses within the following criteria:

  • Streaming is available for Course Reserves only and must be required viewing for the entire class
  • Limit of 10 new streaming titles per course
  • Streaming requests are purchased on a "first come, first serve" basis until the quarterly budget is expended

We will purchase streaming rights for films requested for classes that do not meet the above criteria only if they are not available in physical format.

Keep in mind that:

  • Many films are not available for the Libraries to stream.
  • Plan ahead: it can take several weeks/months to license these materials.  
  • Licenses will not be renewed unless they meet the above criteria.

Request course reserves streaming: Use the Streaming Media for UW Seattle Courses form.


Consider whether your use is fair.  These tools can help with a fair use analysis.  Please note they do not provide legal advice.


We encourage you to follow these practices, which will strengthen your stance under both Fair Use and the TEACH Act. Copyright law is complex.  Stream unlicensed video for your class as a last resort:

  • Always put the media in your password-protected Canvas site that is only accessible by students enrolled in your course.
  • Use videos that directly relate to your curricula.
  • Use the minimum amounts of films necessary to meet your pedagogical objectives.
  • Transform the video clips into teaching tools.  For example, include critical analysis or annotations with the clips you show.
  • Put the clips in your Canvas site only during the days students need to access them for your class.
  • Include notice that the film is protected by copyright.  For example, the © symbol and any of the information following it, such as the author's and publisher's names.
  • Use media that was lawfully acquired.  



  • Fair use (17 USC § 107) is a flexible doctrine of law that allows us to use copyright protected works for certain purposes.
  • The TEACH Act 17 (USC § 110(2)) is a limited and technical exception to copyright that allows some uses of media in distance learning.
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, (17 USC § 1201) is a highly technical law that prohibits circumventing technological protection measures of copyright-protected works---even if a user wishes to use the work legally.  Every three years the US Copyright Office creates exceptions to this restriction.  Current exceptions were enacted in 2015 and will expire in 2018. They are explained in this blog and chart from Ohio State University. 

Other Streaming Options

There are other streaming options available to assist with your instructional needs. Each option below includes a description and a brief explanation of relevant copyright principles. Instructors should decide which option is most appropriate based on their pedagogical needs.

1. Link to UW Libraries' licensed streaming videos

Service: Consider the film databases the Libraries already provides. This not only helps your class, it helps in the libraries. We recommend that you check these collections first to see if there are films that will work for your class. See the Streaming Media Collections A-Z list and the Finding Videos & Streaming Videos in the UW Libraries pages for help finding these items. Contact your subject librarian for ideas and guidance.

Copyright: The Libraries has license agreements with the database providers to make these films available in streaming format for UW faculty, staff, and students.  

Help: Contact your subject librarian for help identifying films for your class. Faculty, see instructions to Link URLS for streaming videos in your course websites

2. Use public library streaming videos

Service: Seattle Public Library (SPL) and King County Library System (KCLS) card holders can access streaming video collections. All UW students, staff and faculty are eligible to get SPL and KCLS library cards. Available collectons: 

Documentaries, films in the public domain, and short films may be available through free online collections like the Internet Archive.

Copyright: Each provider will have a different license agreement. We encourage you to read the terms of each license.

3. Host streaming video content yourself

Service: Canvas allows you to embed multiple video files to your course site.

Copyright: You may consider doing a fair use evaluation and decide to host video content essential for your class. See the UW Libraries Step-by-Step Guide to Copyright Compliance.

Help: See these instructions for how to upload a video into Canvas. The Open Scholarship Commons (OSC) can assist with technical questions about converting audio and video for Canvas.  UW-IT can answer questions about Canvas.

4. Stream unlicensed video

Ask the content creator or copyright holder for permission to stream the video for use in your course.  

Credits - content used on this page was adapted from:

This page has been adapted from the Georgetown University Library's Guide to Using Films in Courses (2017)