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Waidner-Spahr Library

Copyright & Scholarly Communication: Films and Performance Rights

Copyright Issues

SEE also the Copyright Use FAQ item on "Group Showings", "Getting Permission", and "Copying Films"

Co-curricular Group Showings

Co-curricular & club showings

Please check Films on DemandAcademic Video Online (AVON), or the library DVD collection first!   Read on for more details about what is permitted.

To host a co-curricular group showing of a copyrighted film (which is most films), you need to have "performance rights" or permission from the copyright holder, even if you are not going to charge admission.  For some films the Library acquires, performance rights are already available.  Films from Films on Demand streaming, Academic Video Online (AVON) streaming, most (but not all) DVD documentaries owned by the library, and Kanopy streaming may be used for on-campus showings by student groups and co-curricular programs for which no admission is charged. Please check Films on Demand, Academic Video Online (AVON), or the library DVD collection first!   Films viewed on Kanopy are much more expensive for the College, because they charge the library a significant fee on a per-film basis. 

The Library has already purchased educational performance rights for many (though not all) individual documentaries in the DVD collection. Specific performance rights allowed vary by film.  If a library DVD has some performance rights, the details of what is permitted will be noted in the full catalog record for the film.  You can identify many of these titles by searching for Local Note contains "performance rights" in Jumpstart (as shown).

Local Note contains "performance rights"

If you need help determining if a film in the Library collection has performance rights that meet your needs, please email circ@dickinson.edu.

Classroom showings
Group showings of a legally obtained film to students enrolled in a specific course are allowed as part of the face-to-face teaching exemption in copyright law.

Waidner-Spahr Library Film Collection Guidelines

For information on the Library's Collections Guidelines for Films, see: https://libguides.dickinson.edu/collections/films

Permission to Show a Film

If the Library copy of a film does not already have performance rights that allow for your intended use, you will need to get the permission of the copyright holder in order to hold a co-curricular or club group showing.  The copyright holder may charge you a fee for this.  If a fee is charged, it is the responsibility of the group organizing the showing to fund this.

Student groups, clubs, and organizations should contact the Office of Student Leadership & Campus Engagement (slce@dickinson.edu) and MOB (mob@dickinson.edu) to purchase performance rights for an individual showing of many films. MOB frequently purchases film rights and is always looking to co-sponsor movie events with other groups. You can also contact the distributor directly to request permission, and this may be an option with some independently produced films. If you do not get an explicit written or email response giving permission, you may not use the work outside of fair use or other exemptions permitted by copyright law.

For academic departments or administrative offices that would like to host a screening outside of a specific course, the Office of Student Leadership & Campus Engagement is happy to assist in the process of acquiring performance rights for a particular film. Alternatively, departments and offices can secure the rights independently. To purchase performance rights for an individual showing of many films, contact Swank Motion Pictures (http://www.swank.com/). Swank acts as a clearinghouse for purchase of performance rights for such showings, and has agreements with most major film studios. You can also contact the distributor directly to request permission, and this may be an option with some independently produced films.  If you do not get an explicit written or email response giving permission, you may not use the work outside of fair use or other exemptions permitted by copyright law.

Netflix allows limited screening rights for some documentaries.  Netflix allows educational screenings of some documentaries for faculty with their own Netflix account.  You must have a personal Netflix account, and you need to verify that the specific film you want to show is available for educational screening through Netflix.  See details and terms for "Educational Screenings of Documentaries" on the Netflix website at: https://help.netflix.com/en/node/57695.