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Films/Music and Copyright

Title 17 U.S. Code § 110 provides a specific exemption to copyright limitations on display and performance of film and music in the classroom including:

  • Performance occurs in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution;
  • in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction;
  • with a pedagogical purpose;
  • via a lawfully made copy.

For the purposes of Furman, this applies to in-person and virtual classes as well as CLPs (Cultural Life Program events).


Subscription Streaming Services

Subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon have very detailed membership agreements that frequently restrict the streaming of their content in a classroom or other public venue.

When you agree to the membership terms, you enter into a contract and are bound by the terms of that agreement even if applicable exceptions to copyright would otherwise allow it. If you plan to show programs available through Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other subscription or short term rental streaming services, we encourage you to require your students to access that content outside of class through their own subscription or account. For students that do not have a subscription, many of these services also provide free trials.

Amazon Prime

Amazon has not made provisions for educational screenings of its content. Streaming Amazon content in a classroom setting would be a direct violation of licensing terms (section 4h).

Disney+ / Disney Plus

Disney+ has not made provisions for educational screening of its content. Streaming Disney+ content may be a direct violation of their streaming agreement.


HBO has not made provisions for educational screenings of its content through personal accounts. Streaming HBO content in a classroom setting would be a direct violation of licensing terms (section 6a).

Some HBO documentaries are available in Kanopy for individual purchase. Submit a Video Request if you are interested in purchasing one of these titles.


Hulu has not made provisions for educational screenings of its content. Streaming Hulu content in a classroom setting would be a direct violation of licensing terms (section 3.2).


Netflix allows some of its documentaries to be shown in a face-to-face educational setting. To see if the Netflix program you wish to view permits educational use, visit the Netflix Media Center and search for the program you wish to show. If the title is permitted for educational use, you will see information under the synopsis reading "Grant of Permissions for Educational Screenings" with applicable uses clearly defined.  

Need more information?

Questions about copyright, fair use, and best practices for performance and display of films should be directed to


Digital Conversion and Copyright

The Digital Collections Center has the equipment to convert physical video/audio materials like VHS, DVDs, and cassette tapes into digital files. When we receive a request to convert physical audio/video materials to digital files, we follow this process:

  • If the material is currently available for purchase in an institutional streaming format (e.g. through Kanopy, Swank, etc.), the Library will attempt to purchase it and make it available through the Library Catalog.
  • If the material is not currently available for purchase in an institutional streaming format, the Digital Collections Center will only legally convert it to a digital file if the Library has written consent from the copyright holder.
  • Exceptions may be made if the digitized film is required for distance education or for meeting student accommodations as defined by the Student Office of Accessibility Resources (SOAR).

Under these exceptions, the Digital Collections Center will:

  1. Work with the Library's Resource Management to ensure the physical copy is part of the Library's collection. If not, it will be purchased.
  2. Digitize the physical copy.
  3. Remove the physical copy from library circulation making it unavailable for other use.
  4. As needed, work with SOAR to ensure accessibility.
  5. Make the digitized copy available via Box. The Box folder will be password protected and the password shared only with the necessary parties. The files will be non-downloadable and limited to the semester in which the class is taught.


Note: Digital copies of physical audio/video materials that are produced and/or related to Furman University may be retained in Special Collections and Archives for preservation purposes.



Distance Education and Copyright - the TEACH Act

The TEACH (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization) Act facilitates the performance and display of copyrighted materials for distance education purposes. The TEACH Act applies to distance education that includes the participation of any enrolled student, on or off campus.

The Copyright Crash Course from the University of Texas offers an excellent analysis and checklist for the TEACH Act:

Public Performance Rights

In some cases, audio or video works can be purchased with Public Performance Rights (PPRs), which license the right to perform the work in public beyond the narrow classroom exception. Very few films, including only a small number held by the Furman University Libraries, are already licensed for public performance. PPR licenses can often be purchased from vendors or from the distribution company (most documentaries or independent films). 


Here are a list of organizations that hold PPR for many films. We recommend starting with Swank.