Library Services and Resources for Faculty

Media in the Classroom and Copyright

The Copyright Act at §110(1) (face to face teaching exemption) allows for the performance or display of video or film in a classroom where instruction takes place with enrolled students physically present and the film is related to the curricular goals of the course.

The TEACH Act amendment to the Copyright Act (§ 110(2)) permits the performance of a reasonable and limited portion of films streamed or embedded in an online classroom. It does not supersede the fair use doctrine of copyright law, so films that are not allowed by the TEACH Act (feature films and dramatic works) may fall under fair use.

Films in the library's subscription databases can be embedded or linked to without violating copyright.

Fair Use

Fair use is a limitation on the rights of the copyright holder that allows others to use portions of a copyrighted work or the whole work without permission from the holder (Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act). It is determined by a balanced application of the four factors set forth in the statute:

  1. Purpose of the use
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The Thompson Library also consults the Association of Research Libraries Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (2012).

Instructors who want to use copyrighted material as additional reading or viewing course content, should determine whether their use is fair before posting or uploading items to their online courses or submitting additional readings for course reserve. Not all educational use is fair use.

The library has created a Fair Use Checklist to help faculty work through their use of copyrighted works. All materials submitted for library course reserves, especially e-reserves, will be assessed for Fair Use.

Additional information can be found through the UM-AA Copyright Office. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Liz Svoboda, Head of Circulation, at

Library Resources for Streaming Media

The library has a large collection of streaming videos and audio tracks on many subjects. Most individual films or audio tracks have stable URLs that can be shared or code to embed into Blackboard. Please contact a librarian if you need help embedding or sharing links.

Academic Video Online (part of Alexander Street Press) and Kanopy are the largest databases of streaming media.

We are currently having issues embedding videos into Blackboard with the code given by both Alexander Street Video and the legacy player in Alexander Street Press, please use the stable URL and add the library proxy ( to the beginning of it in order to link to content.

A correctly proxied link should look like this

The links below are to full lists of library databases with streaming media. Some are smaller collections within Alexander Street Press.

Using Library Discs or Tapes

Instructors can reserve media (CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes) from both the UM Flint Thompson Library as well as Ann Arbor's Askwith Media collection for face to face instructional use. Please search the Library Catalog below for media items.

Catalog Search

Streaming Netflix Documentaries in a Classroom

UPDATE! Netflix has created a YouTube playlist of 35 of its educational documentaries for instructors to stream in their online classes.

Netflix allows some of its documentaries to be shown in a face-to-face educational setting, however you must check to see if the content has a "Grant of Permission for Educational Screenings."



"Some original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings.

To find out which titles are available for educational screenings, go to the "Only On Netflix" section of [see above link]. From here, navigate to "All Alphabetical".

Titles that are available for educational screening will display the following grant of permission on their details page:


Netflix is proud to present original documentaries that speak to our users in a meaningful way. We know that many of you are as excited about these films as we are; and because of their informational aspects, you’d like to show them in an educational setting -- e.g., in the classroom, at the next meeting of your community group, with your book club, etc.

Consequently, we will permit one-time educational screenings of permitted documentaries. We use the term "one-time screening" to mean that you can't hold screenings of the same documentary several times in one day or one week. However if, for example, you are an educator who wants to show a documentary once a semester over multiple semesters, that is permitted.

Educational screenings are permitted for any of the documentaries noted with this information, on the following terms:

  • The documentary may only be accessed via the Netflix service, by a Netflix account holder. We don’t sell DVDs, nor can we provide other ways for you to exhibit the film.
  • The screening must be non-profit and non-commercial. That means you can’t charge admission, or solicit donations, or accept advertising or commercial sponsorships in connection with the screening.
  • Please don’t use Netflix’s logos in any promotion for the screening, or do anything else that indicates that the screening is “official” or endorsed by Netflix.
  • We trust our users to respect these guidelines, which are intended to help you share and discuss our documentary content in your community."

Streaming Amazon Prime, HBO, or Hulu in the Classroom

Amazon Prime

When agreeing to Amazon Prime Video Terms and Conditions upon account creation, specifications state that "Amazon grants you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable, limited license, during the applicable Viewing Period, to access and view the Digital Content in accordance with the Usage Rules, for personal, non-commercial, private use." 

Amazon has not made provisions for educational screenings of its content. While classroom use would be non-commercial, it would not be considered personal/private use. Streaming Amazon content in a classroom setting would be a direct violation of licensing terms (section 4h).


When agreeing to HBO Terms of Use upon account creation, specifications state that "You may not copy, reproduce, distribute, publish, enter into a database, display, perform, modify, create derivative works, transmit, or in any way exploit any part of this Service, except that you may access and display material and all other content displayed on this Service for non-commercial, personal, entertainment use on a single computer or device only." 

HBO has not made provisions for educational screenings of its content through personal accounts. While classroom use would be non-commercial, it would not be considered personal use. Streaming HBO content in a classroom setting would be a direct violation of licensing terms (section 6a).

Kanopy does have a selection of HBO documentaries available in its collection.


When agreeing to Hulu Terms and Conditions upon account creation, specifications state that "using the services, including accessing and viewing the Content on a streaming-only basis, [is for] personal, non-commercial purposes." 

Hulu has not made provisions for educational screenings of its content. While classroom use would be non-commercial, it would not be considered personal use. Streaming Hulu content in a classroom setting would be a direct violation of licensing terms (section 3.2).

Non-Library Resources for Free & Legal Streaming Video

There are many sources for streaming video content available that students can access on their own; many students already subscribe to services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, which offer thousands of documentaries, mainstream film titles, and television programs on a streaming basis for a monthly fee. Additionally, sites like YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and iTunes offer inexpensive streaming video rental. Public libraries may have either physical copies to borrow or streaming services for their patrons, for example, the Genesee District Library has Hoopla. 

Instructors are encouraged to investigate availability of videos through these subscription and rental services that they wish students to view.

There are also many online sources for free and legal streaming content:

Chat with a Librarian

Additional Copyright Resources

Thanks and Attribution

This guide is inspired, in part, by the University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries' Copyright on Campus: Showing Movies in Class on Campus,, CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0.