Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Copyright for Merced College: Films and Music

Copyright Disclaimer

Caveat: Merced College does not require courses to be synchronous, therefore you may not show films unless they have public viewing rights or are in the public domain.  Films on Demand and AVON through Merced College databases may be shown in your classrooms and may be embedded in your Canvas Shell.

  • When you want to perform, display, or show a film, video, or TV program, as part of a course you have to consider the rights of the those who own the copyright to the work you want to use. This consideration must be made regardless of who owns the video or where you obtained it. Copyright owners have certain rights, which are commonly known as public performance rights (PPR).
  • When you're using a film, video, or TV program in a classroom for teaching or educational purposes, such performance or display of the entire work may be allowed without permission under the face to face teaching exemption at 17 U.S.C. §110(1).
  • When showing a film in an online class, it may be considered fair use depending on how much of the film is being shown and for what purposes. If fair use does not apply, you will need a streaming license or view the film through a licensed streaming film provider.
  • In most other cases, especially when the film, video, or TV program is being shown as part of an event, you need permission--often in the form of a public performance rights (PPR) license--to perform or show the copyrighted work.

Adapted: George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA


YouTube Creators

For more answers to your Copyright questions, check out the whole series here:

And check out our Help Center articles on Fair Use:

Subscribe and hit the bell to see a new video each Tuesday:

 See index of all lessons: 

Get step-by-step instructions:

Public Viewing Rights OR Service Agreement

Copyright determines what may and may not be used in the classroom.  Films may be shown synchronously in a closed classroom (or behind the portal), if you only use what is pedagogically necessary.  When you download a link to your Canvas shell, you are making a copy.  This breaks copyright law.

Service Agreements are usually more restrictive because those services either own their own original content (Amazon or Netflix) or have paid a licensing fee to the copyright owner to show that film.  When you download a film for a non-personal use, you are breaking the service agreement.  While the worse thing that will probably happen to you is your service will be cancelled, do you want to chance it.

FBI Anti- Piracy Warning

Image credit: The Hollywood Reporter

While streaming doesn't violate U.S. copyright law, downloading very explicitly does. You're making a copy of the work every time you download something — a clear violation if it's done without the copyright holder's permission. “The copyright owner has the exclusive right to make copies.Oct 14, 2019 

"When Streaming is Illegal: Here is What You Need to Know About Pirated Copies." All Connect.

Sample Service Agreements

Searching for Specific types of films

You may search or browse for films by title or genre. On some pages, you may filter by MPAA ratings, copyright year, and genre.

Searching for specific criteria

On the homepage, use the search bar at the top to search for keywords in the title or description.

Feature Films for Education homepage header with search box highlighted in yellow

Use the Advanced Search page to search for keywords and/or search by Producer, Copyright Year, Genre, or Language (there are a few Spanish-language films and several with Spanish subtitles). Other advanced search features listed don't actually provide additional functionality.

FFE Advanced Search page showing multiple keyword search boxes and several filters including Producers, Copyright Date, and Genre


Showing Movies in Class and on Campus

There are many sources for streaming video content available that students can access on their own. For instance, subscription services Netflix and Hulu offer thousands of documentaries, mainstream film titles, and television programs on a streaming basis for an affordable monthly fee that most students likely already pay. Additionally, sites like Amazon and iTunes offer inexpensive streaming video rental. Instructors are encouraged to investigate availability of videos through these subscription services that they wish students to view and require students, as part of the class, to have one of these low-cost monthly services or to rent movies on their own time. . There are also many online sources for free and legal streaming content:

Students must access these on their own, you may not show them asychronously.

George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. Resources for Free and Legal Streaming Video. CC BY NC SA