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Film Studies

This guide is intended to support research for film and media studies

Copyright Flowchart

copyright flowchart

Copright Flowchart in Education by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and Meryl Zeidenberg. Click picture to enlarge.

Film Studies Librarian

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Meredith Wisner
Meredith Wisner
Research & Instruction Librarian for the Arts
Office: 306 Milstein

Mon & Wed: Zoom only
Tues, Thurs, Fri: In-person/Zoom

Streaming Media and Copyright

Unfortunately, many films are unavailable in streaming formats that Libraries can legally purchase. As a result, many of our films are only available on DVD or VHS. We are not able to digitize films at this point in time.

Fair Use of DVDs, Videos, and Films

Please note that the Barnard Library cannot give legal advice.

United States copyright law 17 U.S. Code § 107 clearly allows DVDs and films to be used for classroom instruction. As of October 24, 2012 (under US copyright law section 1201 updated every three years by the Librarian of Congress), professors and students are also permitted to use excerpts from motion pictures or films to create clip compilations and new works made for the purpose of criticism or comment, such as documentaries or "video essays."

Any other use may require a special license, called Public Performance Rights (PPR). This includes all film screenings open to the public or held in a public space, whether admission is charged or not. A guide to locating rights holders and obtaining PPR can be found here. Additional information is available on the Motion Picture Association of America's Public Performance Law website.


For Instructors

Additional information on U.S. Copyright exceptions for Instructors, and The Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ Statement of Best Practices for Fair Use in Teaching for Film and Media Educators. Columbia's Copyright Advisory Services also contains a page on showing film and media in the classroom.

See also the Exceptions for Instructors website from the Copyright Advisory Network of the American Library Association -- 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 Yale Copyright and Fair Use page for more information.

There is more information at the Association of Research Libraries' Copyright & Intellectual Policies page and Columbia's Copyright Advisory Services.

Streaming Video at Barnard

These are some selected streaming video databases available to the Barnard/Columbia community. When off-campus, you'll need a UNI to log-in to the databases.

For a full, up-to-date list of video databases that Barnard/Columbia subscribe to, click this CLIO link or check Columbia's guide to streaming video.

Free Viewing Sites