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Streaming Videos

This guide contains information about accessing JMU's Streaming Video Collection


Do you have questions about re-using, remixing, showing, screening, or presenting audio or video?

Resources on this page should give you a better sense of what you can legally and ethically do.

Consult Copyright @ JMU for specific questions.

Best Practices

What are Public Performance Rights (PPR)?

Copyrighted films (and most of them are) are not automatically licensed for public performance (showing a movie/film in a dorm, auditorium, or other public space). The only legal exception to this rule is if an instructor shows a video to enrolled students only in a traditional (i.e., face-to-face) classroom setting (more detail here).

Does JMU Libraries purchase films with Public Performance Rights?

Because of the extra cost, JMU Libraries does not automatically purchase PPR for films. Some documentary publishers and distributors (e.g., Films for the Humanities, Bullfrog) do include PPR in the purchase price. These films may be screened to the public so long as the screening is free. These are the exception rather than the rule. Major studios (Sony and Columbia) do not sell DVDs with PPR.

Do I need PPR?

It can be confusing to understand when you need to purchase PPR. In general, any time a film is "display[ed] at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered," (Title 17, U.S. Code) you will need to secure PPR rights.

Our event is free -- can't we just show the video?

No, unless you are showing a film that already has PPR. Any time you are holding a public event where anyone can come, it is considered a public performance and you will need PPR. Student clubs, student-run film festivals and similar events are all public performances.

Do we have collections that already include PPR?

Yes! A few of our streaming video databases include public performance rights as part of our institutional licensing. Here are the key databases that include the PPR permissions:

Public Performances for Educational Purposes Allowed
Terms and Conditions for Public Performances
Alexander Street Press

Yes - no admission or fees can be charged
*Excluding FILM PLATFORM titles

Terms and Conditions for ASP

Yes - no admission or fees can be charged

Terms and Conditions for Docuseek
Films on Demand

Yes - no admission or fees can be charged

Terms and Conditions for Films on Demand

Depends on the film - learn how to identify films with PPR

Terms and Conditions for Kanopy
Illumira/NJVID Depends on the film  

How do I purchase PPR?

If you want to show a film NOT from the list of databases above, which provide films with PPR, you have two options:

First, you can ask your liaison librarian if JMU Libraries would consider purchasing the PPR for a film in our collection.

Second, you can purchase the PPR directly from the organization that sells it, including:

When inquiring about PPR, have the following information on hand:

  • Your name and the name of your organization
  • Where and to whom you will show the film
  • How your organization will pay for the rights to show the movie
  • Contact information for your organization
  • Whether or not you need a copy of the film

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.

The Association of Research Libraries' Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (PDF) also has a clear statement of fair and reasonable approaches to fair use developed by and for librarians who support academic inquiry and higher education that you can consult.

Full Text Copyright & Fair Use Laws

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.