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Research Guides

Video & Streaming Video: Using Video & Streaming Video in Courses

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

Using Video and Streaming Video in UW Seattle Courses

The UW Libraries supports the use of video in UW courses. Each option for using video and streaming video in UW courses listed below has a description of resources available through the Libraries and 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.  

Non-Streaming Options

The UW Libraries offers these options for using physical media in UW courses.  

Classroom Screening

  • Service:  DVDs and other media formats can be checked out by instructors for viewing in face-to-face classroom teaching.

  • Locations for Viewing:  View DVDs and other media formats in your classroom.  Contact Classroom Technology & Events for help.  

  • Copyright:  Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act of 1976 permits instructors at nonprofit educational institutions to show entire films in the course of face-to-face classroom teaching provided that the video was lawfully made and acquired.

  • Help:  Contact the Media Arcade to request an item for use in your class on a specific day and time. 

In-Library Screening for your class

  • Service:  Schedule live screenings for your class to be held in a UW Libraries space.

  • Locations for Viewing: 

  • Copyright:  Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act of 1976 permits instructors at nonprofit educational institutions to show entire films in the course of face-to-face classroom teaching provided that the video was lawfully made and acquired.

  • Help:  Contact your subject librarian for help requesting a library space for a screening.  

Course Reserves

  • Service:  Place a physical media item (personal or UW Libraries copy) on reserves in the Media Arcade.  Submit request using the Course Reserves Request Form.

  • Locations for Viewing:  Individual students or small groups of students may watch course reserves videos and other media in the Media Arcade.  Non-course reserves media may also be viewed in the Media Arcade. Visit the Libraries' Media Arcade and watch physical media reserves on equipment in the Media Arcade.

  • Copyright:  DVDs and other media in the Libraries collection may be loaned out and viewed under the first sale doctrine.  

  • Help:   Contact the Media Arcade for help placing physical media on course reserves.  

Streaming Media Policy (Seattle campus)

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 carefully consider non-streaming and other streaming options prior to requesting that the Libraries acquire the rights to stream titles.  Criteria for streaming are listed in the Request that the library acquire rights to stream a particular title section below. The Libraries has purchased a number of streaming titles to support the curriculum; information on identifying these titles is in the Streaming Options below.

Streaming Options

There are several different streaming options available to assist with your instructional needs.  What you choose will largely depend on how much and what kinds of streaming video you would like to use.  The models discussed below could be used in tandem with each other.

Link to licensed streaming videos from the UW Libraries

Service: The UW Libraries features a growing number of licensed streaming video collections. When you are planning your syllabus 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. 

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 or Media Arcade staff for help identifying films for your class. Faculty, see instructions to Link URLS for streaming videos in your course websites

Check free content online or through the public library

Service: Seattle Public Library (SPL) and King County Library System (KCLS) provide access to Hoopla, an online streaming video service. If you are a SPL or KCLS library card holder, you can create an account on the Hoopla log-in page. All UW students, staff and faculty are eligible to get SPL and KCLS library cards.

Documentaries, films in the public domain, and short films may be available through sites such as Internet Archive, YouTube, Vimeo, or others. See UW Tacoma Library's Streaming VIdeo: Free Internet Sites.  

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

Ask students to subscribe to pay-on-demand commercial streaming providers

Service: If you intend to use feature films in your class, consider asking your students to pay for content from a streaming provider such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. 

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

Help: Consult an online video aggregator such as JustWatch.com to see which titles are available on major commercial streaming providers.

Host streaming video content yourself

Service: Canvas allows you to host media files up to a certain size for your class.

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. Media Arcade staff can show you how to create and embed clips from DVDs, VHS, and other media into Canvas. 

Request that the library acquire rights to stream a particular title 

Service: The UW Libraries supports curricular-based streaming video as best as we can given budget constraints, restrictive vendor licensing terms, high costs (typical streaming rights for one year ranges from $200-$600 per film), and the need for equitable distribution of streaming across departments. 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
  • Minimum class enrollment of 30 students
  • Limit of 5 new streaming titles per course
  • Streaming requests are purchased on a "first come, first serve" basis until the quarterly budget is expended
  • Streaming 

We will not purchase streaming rights for films which are readily available at a reasonable cost to students through commercial pay-per-view services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Consult an online video aggregator such as JustWatch.com to see which titles are available on major commercial streaming providers.

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 or thorough reasonably priced streaming services.  

Keep in mind that:

  • Setting up streaming agreements with vendors can be time-consuming. Please plan ahead, it can take weeks/months to license these materials.  
  • Upon expiration of a license, the library will apply the above criteria for license renewal decisions.

Submit course reserves streaming video purchase requests through the Course Reserves Request Form.

Stream unlicensed video

You may seek permissions to use the media you need.  Contact the copyright holder to request permission to stream the video for use in your course.  

Copyright:  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:

  • 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.  

Law: 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. 

Copyright law is complex.  Stream unlicensed video for your class as a last resort.

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