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Primarily intended to help faculty navigate fair use, codes of best practice, streaming video requirements, and more.

Other Educational Uses of Films

Section 110(1) of the copyright law provides an exemption for certain educational uses of videorecordings. Specifically, it allows for "performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction." A performance is most likely to fit within the exception if:

  • The performance is in a classroom or similar location used for instruction. 
  • The performance is part of a “teaching activity.” The teaching activity does not have to be part of a regular course. Examples include discussion forums or educational programs related to the film led by a student or instructor.

Public Performances

A performance can be “public” if it is at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances are gathered. 

Library-owned films and films from personal digital services such as Netflix rarely include public performance rights. Only performances which are not "public" are exempt from the requirement of a license from the copyright holder.

  • Films owned by Memorial Library may ordinarily be viewed in the library at workstations or viewing rooms.
  • They may also be viewed at home (e.g., in a dorm room), so long as no more than a few friends are involved. The smaller the viewing group, the less likely it will be a public performance.
  • Open invitations and advertisements to the public can make the performance “public.”

Obtaining Performance Rights

At Berry College

Berry has a license with Swank Motion Pictures, Inc., the major public performance licensing agent for venues where feature movies are shown publicly. The campus contact is: Lydia M. Gordon, Assistant Director, Student Activities,, (706) 236-2293, Ext. 2320

Tips on Finding Copyright Holders

  1. Determine who the copyright holder is.
  2. Google the copyright holder, or use a directory like Whitepages, to find current contact information.
  3. Document your contacts and keep records of all related correspondence.

Other Licensing Agents

  • BMI represents over 350,000 creators of music, the songwriters, composers and publishers of more than 6.5 million musical works
  • American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) licenses the right to perform songs and musical works created and owned by the songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers who are ASCAP members and also those members of foreign performing rights organizations who are represented by ASCAP in the United States.
  • Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) is an independent copyright licensing agency that provides the Umbrella License to ensure copyright compliance for the public performance of motion pictures.

Kanopy & Films on Demand

Public performances of kanopy and Films on Demand videos are permitted as long as no admission costs are charged and no profit is made from the screening.


Get permission

  • The copyright owner is typically the creator of the work. For example, most movie studios hold the copyright to their works.
  • Obtain permission in writing if possible. While an oral agreement may suffice, written agreements always are preferable.
  • Some film rental companies offer a “public performance license” for an additional fee.

Use a film for which permission is not required

Although the rules for determining the duration of protection can be complicated and may depend on facts that are simply undiscoverable without many hours of research, one bright line rule does exist: any work published in the U.S. before 1923 is in the public domain.

Many copyright owners offer their works to the public with few or no restrictions. To use these works, make sure that the owner has given explicit permission to the public and heed any restrictions that may prohibit your planned use.

Here are links to a few sources of information about films that are in the public domain or have been offered to the public and how to obtain them:

Use a work created by the U.S. government

Works created by the federal government are not protected by copyright. However, works commissioned by the federal government and state government works may have copyright protection. Sources of U.S. government works in the public domain include: