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:
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, (706) 236-2293, Ext. 2320
Tips on Finding Copyright Holders
Other Licensing Agents
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: