Digital Video and Scholarly Communications


HPU Libraries Media provides the service of digitizing videos and putting clips online, through URLs that students can copy and paste into their browsers.  I often get requests for putting the whole film online, and I thought I would use this post to clarify the legal issues of streaming films for educational purposes.

The TEACH Act allows for portions of the film to be put online for educational reasons.  To stream a whole film, you generally have to buy an expensive streaming contract through the copyright holders of the film.  This scenario does not apply to fair use copyright laws because most of the four factors of fair use are not in favor of streaming a whole film.  Streaming a film is not fair use because it is not transformative or creative.  Fair  use is also using portions of the work and streaming films online might effect the market.

One way that HPU Libraries can stream an entire feature film online is through Swank Digital Campus.  HPU Libraries buys a subscription to Swank and then we can purchase streaming films through individual contracts.  Swank allows multiple users to watch many different films.  Last year, over 10 HPU faculty members took advantage of Swank.  Please contact me if you are interested in using this service in your class.

Kevin Smith, Duke University’s Scholarly Communications Officer, has an interesting and older blog post about digital video in Blackboard that sheds more light on the complications of this issue.  And there is hope that one day streaming will become more available to educational institutions, which we can see in the ruling of the lawsuit against UCLA.

Photograph by beccaplusmolly on Flickr.

Post by Samantha Harlow, Media & Digital Resource Librarian

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