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Copyright and Fair Use

A review of current copyright issues and fair use guidance, with a focus on the work of theological librarians and the teaching and research activities of the institutions they serve.

Do I Need a Public Performance License?

YES -- you need public performance rights:

  • If the showing of the video is open to the public, such as a screening at a public event, OR
  • If the showing is in a public space where access is not restricted, such as a showing of a film for a class but in a venue that is open to anyone to attend, OR
  • If persons attending are outside the normal circle of family and friends, such as a showing of a film by a club or organization.

NO -- you do not need public performance rights:

  • If you are privately viewing the film in your home with only family and friends in attendance, OR
  • If you are an instructor showing the film in class as part of the course curriculum to officially enrolled students in a classroom that is not open to others to attend, OR
  • If the film is in the public domain

If PPR is required, there are two ways to obtain that permission or license:

1.   Contact the copyright holder directly, or contact the distributor.  If the distributor has the authority from the copyright owner to grant licenses, to purchase public performance rights or to request permission for a particular public performance use, permission or license can be directly obtained.

2.   Contact the licensing service representing the particular studio or title (note - this will generally be required for all feature length films). Services vary in the types of licensing offered and the scope of materials represented. 

Finding Free and Legal Streaming Film

There are many sources for streaming video content available that students can access on their own. For instance, subscription services Netflix and Hulu offer thousands of documentaries, mainstream film titles, and television programs on a streaming basis for an affordable monthly fee that most students likely already pay. Additionally, sites like Amazon and iTunes offer inexpensive streaming video rental. Instructors are encouraged to investigate availability of videos through these subscription services that they wish students to view and require students, as part of the class, to have one of these low-cost monthly services or to rent movies on their own time. There are also many online sources for free and legal streaming content:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.