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University Libraries

Streaming Films Policy

University Libraries strives to provide access to streaming films in support of the curriculum of USC-Columbia while also complying with copyright law and classroom use guidelines.  

University Libraries provides streaming film access through Kanopy, Swank, Alexander Street Press, DocuSeek2, Ambrose Digital, and a few other streaming film databases. We urge faculty and instructors to search these databases for films relevant to course content before placing a request for the Libraries to license a film title.

University Libraries has a very limited collections budget, which includes an even more limited budget for streaming film licensing. Licensing one film for one year costs University Libraries on average $100-$200 per title. This is an annual charge because currently most streaming film options are subscriptions (access only), not one-time purchases that allow the Libraries to permanently own these titles.

To responsibly manage the financial and human resource cost of making streaming films available for course use, University Libraries has implemented a policy that includes the following requirements for requesting streaming films:

  • There is a limit of up to 5 streaming titles per course. If your course requires more than this limit, please contact the Educational Films Librarian.
  • Requested films must be required viewing for an entire class. We cannot provide several licensed films for optional viewing. In other words, the film(s) requested must be assigned for coursework. If your course and/or research needs require an alternative approach, please reach out to the Educational Films Librarian to discuss the circumstances.
  • Films need to be requested each semester for which they are required. This will ensure uninterrupted access and allow University Libraries to better track course related requests.

Faculty and instructors can request a streaming film license by using the Suggest A Purchase form. Streaming films will be acquired through approved library vendors that offer institutional licensing and meet our technical requirements.

Due to certain licensing, technical, and infrastructure restrictions, University Libraries are prohibited from acquiring streaming licenses for content that fall under the following circumstances:

  • Content available only on services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, which do not provide institutional licensing.
  • Films offered only through independent filmmakers that do not provide institutional licensing.

As an alternative to streaming film requests, University Libraries can purchase films in DVD format. It is permissible under fair use guidelines for students to watch a film in class or during a scheduled in-person screening. Physical format films can also be placed on reserve in Thomas Cooper Library to be checked out and viewed within the library.

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