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Stream Video To My Online Course: Home

Answers common faculty questions about streaming video to online courses

Key Streaming Video Databases

The following resources should be your go-to resources for (1) general documentary films, (2) visual anthropology, and (3) early motion picture history.

Films on Demand screenshots

Other Video Resources

How Do I Stream Video To My Online Course?

Temple University Libraries will attempt to license digital streaming rights for any movies needed for online only courses. 

Please be aware that not all films are available for streaming. 

The library's two main methods of licensing streaming film are:

  • Semester long licenses from Swank Digital Campus
  • Negotiation with individual rights holders

While one expects distance education students to have reliable Internet access, the digital divide remains a very real issue.  As a result, the library will acquire DVD copies of all streaming films it licenses and make them available for in-house use.

Semester long licenses from Swank Digital Campus

Swank Motion Pictures Inc. manages the rights to feature films and documentaries released by most of the major movie studios.  (Notable exceptions include Paramount and 20th Century Fox.)

Our current contract with Swank allows us to stream 30 titles each semester.  In selecting titles, priority is given to films needed for large classes, multiple sections and courses, and online only courses.  Please email Brian Boling to submit films for streaming consideration.

Due to contractual restrictions imposed by the studios, these films can only be made available via course management systems to students enrolled in the course using the film.  In addition, streaming titles should be films needed for viewing outside of class, as faculty have reported technical issues using the required Microsoft Silverlight player in campus classrooms.

Negotiation with individual rights holders

Self-distributed filmmakers generally retain the rights to their work until it is picked up for wider distribution.  In such cases, we contact the filmmaker to inquire about licensing films for streaming.

Licensing these rights can require extensive negotiation and some contracts need approval from University Counsel.  For best results, please email Brian Boling a list of the titles you wish to use in an online course 1-2 months before the start of the semester.

Using Other Streaming Services

Faculty might be tempted to ask students to obtain subscription services like Netflix or Hulu to replace course reserves.  Such a replacement could potentially create problems with the availability of required viewings.

Keep in mind that such services also license their content for streaming.  These licenses are frequently set for limited terms, meaning that content can disappear with only five days to two weeks of warning.

Relying on YouTube for course viewings may also be problematic.  Films posted illegally can be subject to takedown with little notice.

Why Streaming Entire Videos Isn't Fair Use

The legal concept of Fair Use balances four factors:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is commercial or for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The first factor always weighs in favor of fair use at a nonprofit university. However, the other three factors would typically weigh against streaming entire films.

  • Motion pictures are creative work, rather than data (factor 2)
  • The full work, rather than clips, are proposed for streaming (factor 3)
  • Rights holders stand to lose revenue from unlicensed streaming (factor 4)

On the other hand, it would be reasonable to justify streaming individual clips; in such cases, factors 3 and 4 would also favor fair use.


Brian Boling
Paley Library, Room 15
(215) 204-4911

What Happens After Licensing?

Swank Digital Campus:

If a Swank title is being used for the course you are teaching, you will receive email notification once the title is available.

You may then link to the title in the appropriate Blackboard course using the Ares Course Reserves tool.

Locally Hosted Films:

Films licensed from individual filmmakers are hosted on the Temple University Ensemble platform.  The library often needs to digitize these films in-house. 

The films are then sent to an outside vendor for closed captioning.  These steps can add an additional 1-2 weeks of processing time to your request.

Other Questions?

Please email Brian Boling if you have additional questions about streaming videos for courses.

Or, if you prefer, stop by his office on the ground floor of Paley Library near the Media Services desk. 

He will be glad to answer any questions.