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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 general documentary films, feature films, and visual anthropology material.

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 check LibrarySearch for online availability prior to making your request.  Be aware that not all films can be licensed for streaming.

Major Studio Films

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

Our current contract with Swank allows us to stream a limited number of titles each semester.  In selecting titles, priority is given to films needed for large classes, multiple sections and courses, and online only courses.

In cases where major studio films cannot be licensed, we may need to refer students to low-cost (typically $2-4) streaming rentals on consumer-facing services.

Please submit streaming requests via the Course Reserves tool in Canvas.  Further instructions for submitting reserves are here.


Negotiation with 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.  We also maintain relationships with various independent distributors that allow us to license in perpetuity rights to stream films from our local server.

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 without 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.


Profile Photo
Brian Boling
Charles Library, Room 350
Subjects: Film & Media Arts

Other Questions?

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