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Film Studies Research Guide: Use of Films/Videos in Teaching

A guide to conducting research in Film Studies at Yale University, including key resources and crucial search strategies.

Use of Films and Videos in Teaching

What's Here

One of the major issues for instruction today is whether one can screen films or film clips for a class. While this webpage is no substitute for the direct guidance of the university's General Counsel, it provides a rule of thumb and a link to more substantial sources of guidance.


Quick Rules of Thumb

  • If the material is screened for face-to-face classroom instruction, other people are not being invited to attend, and the film or video was acquired legitimately (that is, you're using a legally-purchased disk or video file, not a copy/rip, aside from clips), there is no problem. This guideline applies to all courses, not just those in Film Studies.
  • In other circumstances it may be necessary to purchase Public Performance Rights, which is a license to screen the film/video to a general audience (even if the audience is "limited" to the Yale community alone). For information about PPR, see one of the sites listed below.  There are exceptions, but that gets into some issues that can't be addressed here.
  • In June 2010, it was determined that it is ok to circumvent copy protection technology in order to use or compile videoclips for education, scholarship, documentaries, and other noncommercial works. See the Library of Congress announcement.

See the page on Copyright and Fair Use for more information.


Best Practices

The Library supports the Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ Statement of Best Practices for Fair Use in Teaching for Film and Media Educators.  All instructors concerned with the issue of screening films in class should review this statement.


See also the Exceptions for Instructors website -- a questionnaire that helps instructors determine whether their usage meets legal definitions.


In January 2012, the Association of Research Libraries issued a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. See the Copyright and Fair Use page for more information.


Other Resources of Interest

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, Center for Social Media, American University.


Copyright Guidelines for Use of Films and Video, Xavier University


Public Performance Rights for Screening Media, Arizona State University Library


Director, Film Study Center