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Reserves and Textbooks: Frequently Asked Questions

Copyright and Course Reserves - Frequently Asked Questions

In the boxes below you'll find answers to frequently asked questions regarding our streaming video reserve and course reserve services. If you don't find answers to your questions here, you can contact the following individuals for more information:

If you need assistance determining if the library owns a copy of the audiovisual work you are interested in having digitized as part of this service, please contact your Subject Librarian.

If you have any questions about how US copyright law impacts this service, please contact Carla Myers, Coordinator of Scholarly Communications at 513-529-3935 or

Frequently Asked Questions - Video Streaming

I never had a problem showing a video in my classroom, why can’t I do it online?

In-person classroom use of a lawfully acquired copy of a DVD or Blu-ray is often covered under Section 110(1) of U.S. copyright law. However, this exception applies to face-to-face teaching only. For online education, we can consider fair use and the TEACH Act for making a digital copy of a film and streaming film to students, however both of these exceptions require us to carefully consider our purpose for doing so, how much of the film students must have access to, and the market availability of the work in the desired format (here, streaming online).

I heard we wouldn’t be able to stream videos in their entirety?

It is true that we cannot stream entire titles that are easily available on commercial platforms or for sale or rent - this would apply to most popular movie releases, for example. For other types of content, if, after conducting a fair use evaluation, the library determines that streaming the entire video would be considered fair use or fall within the scope of the TEACH Act, we can stream the entire title for you. However, it is also likely that only a portion of the film (clips) would be allowed.

How much of the film can I use for it to be considered fair use or fall under the TEACH Act?

There are no specific amounts that qualify, but each use needs to be evaluated on an individual basis in order to determine whether the amount you are requesting (clips or the entire film) ir appropriate to achieve the educational objectives of the course. It depends based on your specific purpose or need, what kind of film it is, how much you need in order to meet your purpose, and what the effect of the use might be on the market for the work.

How can I provide streaming access to a film for students?

If you want your students to have access to an entire film in a streaming format you should first:

  1. Search the library's catalog to see if we already have access via one of our streaming platforms. If so, you can provide your students with the catalog link or embed it into your Canvas course page.
  2. Use Just Watch to see if the video is available for rent or purchase in a streaming format from a vendor such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube Movies, iTunes Movies or Vudu - even if there’s a minor cost to them.

If students need access to an entire film and that film is easily available for them to purchase or lease in a streaming format at a reasonable cost, the instructor should consider treating that film as a required textbook/class expense as it will be unlikely that the library can stream the entire film for them.

There are some instances where it will still be possible for the library to stream an entire film through its streaming video reserve service. These include instances when:

  • Its use is an integral, essential, or foundational part of course work; and
  • You must be able to provide a strong justification as to why students need to have access to the entire film rather than just clips; and
  • It is rare, difficult to obtain, or not commercially available at a reasonable cost.

What if I only need students to watch clips from films?

It may be possible for the library to stream short clips from films for use in online courses in compliance with fair use or the TEACH Act. If you are interested in using clips you complete and submit the streaming video reserves request form, checking the "clips" box, identifying what potions of the film you need, and carefully outlining how the clips will be used as part of course instruction.

How long will it take you to process my request?

At minimum, the processing of requests will take five business days. However, it's likely that the library will need more time, even up to a month, if we need to acquire a copy of a film for our collection or license it for use in online education. Faculty should submit their streaming video reserve requests at least one month before it will be needed for course instruction and be sure to fully complete the request form in order to help ensure timely processing.

Here’s a list of videos I want to use - can you tell me which ones would be considered a fair use or could be streamed under the TEACH Act?

No. We could identify ones we know for sure we cannot stream in their entirety - for example, titles that are available through vendors such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes or that are easily available for sale or rent. For films that do not fall into this category, you can complete our streaming video reserves request form for each film you are interested in having students access, and we will evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis. Under U.S. Copyright law, we are permitted to stream videos in their entirety only under certain, limited circumstances

I see in the catalog that a copy of a DVD we own is listed as having public performance rights. Does this mean you can stream it for me?

Unlikely. Public performance rights are different from streaming rights. If you note that a video in our catalog is listed as having public performance rights please call this to our attention on the streaming video reserves request form so we can check to see if the rights we acquired might include streaming.

I was able to stream films before, why can’t I now?

In the spring of 2019, we updated our streaming video reserve guidelines in order to better align with U.S. copyright law and to reflect the changes in the market availability of streaming films. We started enforcing these guidelines as of July, 2019.

Our new guidelines encourage the use of clips that align with learning objectives, which provides a stronger argument in favor of fair use or compliance with the TEACH Act. The library will also explore opportunities to license streaming rights when possible. However, we will generally not stream entire films that are easily available for purchase or rent or through streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube Movies, iTunes Movies or Vudu since that would have a definite effect of the use on the market, one of the factors of fair use.

How often do I need to submit requests for streaming video?

Instructors must submit a new request each semester the video is needed as the availability of streaming videos changes over time (i.e. a streaming license for a film may become available when it wasn’t previously), prompting a new fair use/TEACH Act determination each semester. This applies to situations where the faculty member is requesting film clips or access to an entire film.

My students don't have a credit card they can use to rent or purchase streaming video from online vendors, or they are not comfortable using their personal credit card to pay streaming video vendors.

In these situations, gift cards for many streaming video service providers (including but not limited to Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, iTunes) can be purchased by students at stores (e.g., super markets, department stores, and convenience stores) and used to rent or purchase access to films they are required to watch for class. Many stores also sell prepaid credit cards that students can use to pay for online streaming film subscriptions, rentals, or purchase that students can use when renting or purchasing access to streaming films online.

My students are hesitant to create online accounts with these streaming film vendors.

In these situations, you may want to speak with your subject librarian about options for making DVD copies of films available through the library's course reserve program so these students can check-out copies to watch instead. The library does have portable DVD players that can connect to the library's computers or student's own computers for checkout as well. For those students who are taking distance courses, your subject librarian can provide you with information about how students can obtain DVD copies of films through our OhioLINK consortia for delivery to any OhioLINK campus or how they can obtain copis of films through their local public library.

What about directing students to videos posted to YouTube?
YouTube Movies is a product that provides lawful streaming access to many film titles that students can watch. Some can be viewed for free (though with ads) while others are available to rent for a small fee or can be purchased. Some vendors post documentaries or TV shows to YouTube channels they host, and students can be directed to these lawful copies as well. There are films and TV shows that have been posted to YouTube by someone other than the rightsholder, and faculty should avoid directing to students to copyrighted content posted anywhere online.

What about subtitles and closed captioning for accessibility?

If the library is able to stream a film for you in compliance with U.S. copyright law and there is a student in the class who requires an accommodation such as closed captioning or audio description the Miami University Libraries will work with Student Disability Services to provide the accommodation. The faculty member who placed the digitization request is responsible for notifying the Library of these accommodation requests.

Does fair use and the TEACH Act apply to library content only, or is the application of copyright law different for personal copies of films I own?

Faculty can consider fair use and the TEACH Act for making copies of copyrightable works available to students as part of teaching and learning here at Miami University. However, when looking to make streaming video available to students under these exceptions many of the considerations outlined in the library's new copyright policy, including the amount being shared, who is able to access the content, and the available market for the work in a streaming format will need to be addressed by faculty. Resources that faculty can consult in making these determinations include the American Library's Association's Fair Use Evaluator and the University of Texas Libraries TEACH Act Resources.