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Screening Movies on Campus Policy

I. Justification and Statement of Policy

II. Scope

Any employee, student, or club wanting to screen a movie on campus.

III. Definitions
IV. Policy

Classroom Screenings

Classroom screenings may fall under the Face-To-Face Teaching Exception under Fair Use Guidelines if certain principles are met:

  • The instructor/TA is present for the screening.

  • The film is only shown to those students enrolled in the class.

  • The relationship between the film or video and the course is explicit.

  • The film is not being shown for recreation or entertainment.

The screening must be of a lawfully made (not pirated or illegally copied) copy of the video, and not be publicized or announced for an audience outside the students in the class.

Group Screenings

Several principles determine whether a film can be shown on campus (outside the classroom) without a public performance license. First, only screenings that are considered 'public' require a public performance license. Second, a "non-commercial" or not-for-profit screening may still require a public performance license even if a fee is not being charged. To determine if your screening is 'Public' consider the following:

  • Is the performance at a place open to the public?

  • Is the performance at a place where a substantial number of people who are not family members or friends are gathered? 'Friend' is somewhat loosely defined as 'having a social relationship' with another person.

Note that even if only a few people attend a screening, it is still considered 'public' if it is literally open to the public. If your screening does meet the 'Public' criteria, you must acquire a public performance license for the film. These licenses have varying costs for an individual film.


  • Films that are in the public domain can be shown publicly.

  • The film's producer (or other copyright holder) has given you written permission to screen the film.

  • The College Library has already acquired the film with public performance rights included. Please visit Public Performance for Screening Media on the Library's website for more information on how to determine whether a film in the Library's collection has PPR and/or how to obtain PPR.

  • The Library also provides campus access to AVON, Kanopy, Swank Digital Campus, and Tugg, which have many thousands of streaming films from a variety of sources. Most of the films on the Kanopy and AVON platforms come with Public Performance Rights. The films hosted on Swank Digital Campus do not have PPR. For information about and access to all of these platforms, please go to our Streaming Media Guide (

Streaming content through Canvas

The Library or ITS may selectively digitize works or provide access to digitized content that we own or that we have licensed for faculty use in courses. Access to such content will be restricted to students enrolled in a given class during a particular semester, and will no longer be accessible to students at the conclusion of a semester. Streamed content can be delivered through course management software, in this case, Canvas. Because films are streamed, they will not be able to be downloaded or retained from the course management system. All standard copyright statements, as detailed in the College's policy, will hold and inform students and faculty of their rights and responsibilities.

We believe that this protocol is in keeping with Fair Use and is supported by the Issue Brief "Streaming of Films for Educational Purposes", dated Feb. 19, 2010, which was prepared by the Library Copyright Alliance, under the multiple auspices of the ALA, ACRL and ARL. We believe this action is further supported by the discussion prepared by the ALA and Library Copyright Alliance "Performance of or showing films in the classroom," September 10, 2009.


Can films be shown on campus for educational purposes?

YES. As long as your situation falls in one of the following four categories.

  1. The film meets the criteria for one of the exceptions listed.

  2. You already purchased public performance rights from a distributor.

  3. A face-to-face teaching exception is met through the following:

    • The instructor/TA should be present for the screening.

    • The film is only shown to those students enrolled in the class.

    • The relationship between the film or video and the course is explicit.

    • The film is not being shown for recreational or entertainment purposes.

  1. If the screening meets the guidelines for Fair Use using the following criteria:

    • Purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is commercial or non-commercial nature - commercial purposes will weigh against fair use;

    • Nature of the work, whether it is creative or informational - the more creative the work, the less likely this factor will weigh in favor of fair use;

    • Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the work as a whole - the more significant amount of work, the less likely this factor will weigh in favor of fair use; and

    • Effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the work.

Can films from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc be shown in a meeting room or classroom space on campus?

NO. Films that are rented or purchased from a vendor are done so with 'Home-Use Only' rights. This means that they can only be shown in a home environment (unless being used for face-to-face teaching).

Can I use a film from the F&M collection for a public screening?

Please refer to the exceptions to group screenings above, and check AVON and Kanopy ( for streaming films with Public Performance Rights. The Library also maintains a list of DVDs ( that have PPR. Films hosted on the Swank Digital Campus platform do not come with screening rights.

Where can I acquire a Public Performance License for a film?

Visit Public Performance for Screening Media ( on the College Library's website if you would like a librarian to make the initial contact for you and the film is not available in AVON, Kanopy or on a DVD in the Library's collection. The following are the most popular distributors that may hold the rights to the film you wish to show.

What if no fee is charged for attendance?

Regardless of whether or not a fee is being charged for attendance, the public performance rights for the film must be secured.

What if there is an educational discussion afterwards?

Regardless of whether or not there is an educational discussion afterwards, the screening is considered 'public' if it is open to all and must have public performance rights secured.

Can my club show a movie?

YES and NO. It is permissible for a club to show a movie for its members only. The screening should not be advertised and no fee should be charged for attendance. This is not considered a public screening because it is a group of 'friends' or 'persons with a social relationship.' It isn't permissible for a club to advertise or announce a screening and invite the public (regardless of whether or not a fee is charged for attendance).

Policy Maintained by: Information Technology Services, Vice President & Chief Information Officer in conjunction with the College Library
Last Reviewed: September 20, 2023