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Use Copyrighted Materials in the Classroom: Use Images & Streaming Media

Use this guide for information and guidance on copyright issues.

Streaming and Physical Media

Showing a library-provided film (DVD or streaming) or a personal copy of a film in a class is covered under the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright Law. The material presented should be directly related to the course and for officially-registered students only.

Use the links below to locate physical or streaming media from MC Library on a wide variety of topics.

To screen a film outside of a classroom setting (such as for a film festival or student club movie night), you must have public performance rights for that film.

What are Public Performance Rights (PPR)?
Public Performance Rights is a license that allows a film to be shown publicly. 

Do Library-Provided Films Include PPR? 
Some, but not all, library-provided films (DVDs and streaming) are purchased with PPR, which means they can be shown outside of a classroom setting. To determine if a library-provided film has PPR:

  • DVDs and physical media: Locate the item in RaptorSearch and scroll to the "Details" section of the full record. If PPR is included with that item, there will be a note for Terms Governing Use and Reproduction that indicates the item includes PPR.
  • Streaming media: library-provided films in certain databases or produced by certain production companies include PPR. See the FAQ linked at the bottom of this box for full details on how to locate library-provided streaming films with PPR.

What are the Restrictions on Showing a Library-Provided Film with PPR?

  • No admission fees can be charged.
  • Assume that advertising to non-MC affiliated users is not permitted, even if restricting attendance to MC-users isn’t required.

What if I Want to Show a Library-Provided Film that Doesn't Include PPR Outside of a Classroom Setting?
If the library-provided film you want to show outside of a classroom setting does not include PPR, you must contact the copyright holder or a copyright licensing agency to obtain PPR before showing the film. Individuals and organizations are responsible for obtaining PPR. For a list of copyright licensing agencies, see the FAQ linked at the bottom of this box.


Be aware that you may be violating copyright law when you take online images/pictures that are not your own. Copying or downloading images from the internet without permissions or acknowledging the source is illegal.

Giving credit to an author for his or her creation is not a substitute for getting permission from the copyright holder. Altering an image without permission is also not legal as it will be considered a derivative work which is the exclusive right of the copyright holder.

Don't assume that just because an image doesn't have a copyright symbol it isn't copyrighted. The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law as of March 1, 1989.  If you are in doubt, check with the owner of the website or the hosting organization about the image you want to use.

Instances When You May Use Publicly Available Images

  • The image is in the public domain or has no legal owner because its (1) copyright has expired (2) its copyright was never renewed, or (3) the work has been dedicated to the public domain.
  • The image is designated as "copyright-free." There are many websites that advertise "copyright-free" images. Always read the terms and conditions before you use, copy or distribute any images.
  • The image is licensed via Creative Commons.

Subscription Streaming Services

It can be tempting to use your personal subscription to a streaming service (like Netflix) to show your students a film. However, you accepted a third-party agreement when you signed up for the service, which supersedes your rights under U.S. Copyright Law. 

Whether in or outside of the classroom, you should not show a film from your streaming service subscription unless you have obtained permission from the streaming service to do so.