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Film and Video Collections

The film and video collections of the Pratt Institute Libraries encompass DVDs, BluRays, VHS tapes, 16mm films and streaming video subscriptions. Physical media circulates and can be viewed on the Lower Level of the Library.

Classroom Screenings and Educational Use

All films and videos in the libraries' collection (DVD, streaming, and 16mm) are available for educational or personal use.

What counts as "educational use"?

  • The screening is part of teaching activities, or educational use. This does not necessarily have to be in a classroom, during class, or screened by the professor- as long as it is part of the curriculum for the course as outlined in the syllabus, it is educational use.
  • The screening is NOT open the public. The viewers must be students who are registered for the course.
  • Generally, this applies only to face-to-face learning, but there are some statutes for "transmitting" the screening such as through distance education or from a university server. That statute, known as the “TEACH Act” and codified at Section 110(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act, may be used only by complying with numerous conditions and requirements. Consult the Copyright Advisory Office for additional information.

These rules are specified in Section 110(1) of the U.S. Copyright Act, if any of these things are not true, you may need to obtain screening rights.

What counts as "personal use"?

  • The screening is in a private space, like an apartment or dorm room
  • The screening is NOT open to the public, and no one is charged for admission

Public Screenings on Campus

Public Performance Rights (PPR) are required in order to screen a film outside of personal or educational use. A "Public Performance" includes any non-classroom campus activities of 50 or more people such as a guest lecture or club activities. No admission may be charged for these events and no money can be made from advertising. Rights are not required for films which are in the Public Domain; for more information see the Public Domain section on this page.

Library-Purchased Streaming Services

Streaming services which are accessed using your OneKey are purchased by the library with PPR. All films available through, and are available to use in public performances on campus as long as no one is charged for admission. 

Professors can request individual titles be purchased on Kanopy for classes by emailing

DVD's Purchased with Public Performance Rights

Many films purchased by the library are licensed with PPR for the life of the disc. Most of these films were purchased for educational use and so are primarily documentaries. All films purchased from the Video Data Bank are also licensed with PPR, so there are also many video and performance art pieces. We have compiled a complete list of these films, which is available online.

Purchasing Rights

Most Hollywood films require you to purchase one-time performance rights to publicly screen. The price of screening rights varies by film, but is generally around $300 per film, per screening.These rights can usually be purchased from third-party rights distributors which represent major Hollywood studios:

 Please note that you must provide the physical film, so if you do not own a copy already this will be a separate cost.

For independent films, you may need to contact the distributor directly. Not all distributors sell PPR, and those that do may not sell them for every film they represent. If you have questions about this, you can always contact the library at

Personal Streaming Services

Can I use my Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Criterion Collection accounts in the classroom?

No. You cannot screen films from these platforms, even for educational purposes.The terms of service for these sites state that the content is licensed for private, home use only and CANNOT be viewed by anyone but the account holder except with express written permission from the site. Violating these terms can result in a suspension of your account.

Netflix has recently released a list of films for which they are granting users an "educational license" to screen in classrooms. These films are documentaries which have been deemed "culturally significant" by Netflix and are the only films which can be screened without prior permission. NB: Ava Duvernay's Thirteenth is currently available to stream for free on YouTube.

Can the library purchase a subscription to these sites?

No. These sites do not allow for institutional purchases of accounts and generally only have the capability of two or three people watching simultaneously.  The library does, however, subscribe to the streaming platforms Kanopy, Alexander Street Press, Electronic Arts Intermix, and Docuseek.

Can I still assign content which is only distributed on these sites?

Yes. Although films on these sites cannot be screened in the classroom, professors can assign their students movie-watching homework. Like the purchasing of textbooks, students may be required in the syllabus to purchase a short-term Netflix subscription or rent a streaming title from Amazon Prime in order to watch these films.

Public Domain and Creative Commons

The Public Domain

Copyright protection does not last forever, and when the copyright has expired, the work may be used without copyright restriction.

 Any work published in the U.S. before 1923 is in the public domain and may be used freely.

Creative Commons

Video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo retain distribution rights to the videos, but they do not own the copyright for them. Because of this, copyright and public performance rights are determined on a case-by-case basis by the individual creators. There are many examples of content creators who explicitly license their work through Creative Commons, which places it in the Public Domain. In general however, it is best to assume that the work is protected under copyright unless otherwise stated. 

You can find Creative Commons- licensed videos by searching for a topic in YouTube, clicking the "filter" icon and selecting "Creative Commons" in the "features" section. 

If a creator has not licensed their content through Creative Commons, YouTube retains the distribution rights and their terms of service take precedent. Like other streaming sites, YouTube's terms of service state that the content is provided for personal use only and cannot be used in public performances without written permission from YouTube.

Work Created by the US Government

Works created by the federal government are not protected by copyright and are in the public domain. However, works commissioned by the federal government may have copyright protection. Also, works produced by state, local, or foreign governments may have copyright protection. Federal government works in the public domain could include many military films and NASA space exploration footage.

This information courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Crews' website from the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University Libraries.  Learn more on the Enabling and Developing Teaching Tools page.  

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