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Using Film & Media in and outside of Class

This guide attempts to answer questions about DVDs and streaming media use in and outside of the classroom.

Library Resources

“DVD" by Geoffrey Fairchild is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Depending on your media needs, it may be worth asking if WashU Libraries have a DVD of the work in our collection or if it is available on any commercial platform the library subscribes to.  


Because WashU Libraries acquires media to support the curriculum, and face-to-face teaching is exempt from public performance rights, WashU Libraries do not typically secure public performance rights with video purchases due to higher associated costs.  

However, some distributors of our educational videos include public performance rights in the purchase price, which means these videos can be shown under conditions specified by the license.


The Libraries license individual titles and subscribe to streaming services that you can assign your students to watch longer than brief clips outside of class. These videos can be searched directly through the Libraries’ website or from within the platforms (like New Day, Infobase Learning, Docuseek, and Digitalia) themselves. When you find a film you would like to assign, you can link to it from Canvas.

There are some titles from streaming services like Kanopy that we have licensed for Campus-wide use as part of Streaming Reserves, or Ares, but these licenses are only for the current semester and cannot be assumed that the same titles will be available next semester.

If you need a Kanopy film with public performance rights, you can use Kanopy's search filter. To browse for Kanopy films that we have access to at Washington University that also have public performance rights, search "film" and select public performance rights at the bottom of the filters on the left hand side of the page. 

Access outside of the United States

The Libraries' databases and subscription services should work anywhere in the world. The only exception to this are films within the Sony Pictures Classics channel on Alexander Street Press, which are only available within the U.S. Keep in mind that databases like Alexander Street Press include packages of videos that do not include public performance rights.

Libraries' Streaming Reserves Service

The Libraries’ Streaming Reserves service is here to help you meet your media needs via certain copyright exemptions as described above. Streaming films for class can be done through the Libraries’ Streaming Reserves service. These requests must be university-owned copies; you cannot request to stream VHS tapes, an entire season of a TV show, a personal or burned DVD, or something borrowed via Interlibrary Loan. This streaming service is available only in conjunction with course reserves (i.e. you cannot request a streaming copy for personal or any other non-classroom use).  

If recurring uses are needed, streaming requests need to be made each year (i.e. the same streaming link will not work year after year). Because of copyright, the Libraries can’t host the same streaming film file in perpetuity.