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Streaming Media: Public Performance Rights

Guide to both free and propriety film databases covering all subject areas with information on how to request streaming media from the library.

Public Performance Rights

What are Public Performance Rights?

Public Performance Rights (PPR) are the legal rights to publicly show a film or video (media). Normally the media producer or distributor manages these rights. The rights-holder can assign PPR to others through a Public Performance License. See Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 110 of the United States Code


How can I find out if a video owned by Copley Library has Public Performance Rights?

While some videos owned by Copley are purchased with performance rights for the university, in many cases the Copley Library video does not include public performance rights. If you are uncertain if a Copley owned film includes public performance rights, contact your librarian Liaison. Videos purchased for private use do not include the right to show them in a public setting other than in face-to-face teaching by an instructor in the classroom.  USD organizations and/or individuals are responsible for verifying and, if necessary, obtaining performance rights prior to offering the public screening of a film or video (regardless of format).


How Can I obtain Public Performance Rights?

You must contact the copyright holder and obtain permission. You can begin your search for the copyright holder with the United State Copyright Office Database, Copley Library's catalog, or WATCH (Writers, Artists, and their Copyright Holders). You can also check and see if the film is in the public domain here.  

Videos requiring public performance rights usually require a payment determined by and paid to the rights-holder by the individuals or organizations hosting a public showing.  Payment requirements will be addressed by the rights-holder or distributor when the request is made.

If you are screening a Copley Library video that clearly includes PPR, you are generally protected for public showings within the university community, and you do not need to obtain additional rights.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does the library make PPR arrangements for individuals / organizations to screen videorecordings as public performances on campus?

Only when the video is already owned or licensed by Copley Library.  Other one-time public screenings on campus need to be licensed by USD individuals / organizations.

How can I check to see if a video owned by Copley Library has PPR?

Contact your liaison librarian if you would like to know if the library video includes performances rights to a specific film.

Does streaming media (ex. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) require public performance rights to be shown in a public setting on campus?

Yes, PPR are required for public screening regardless of format of the video.  In addition, these streaming media providers offer personal subscriptions to their media, not institutional subscriptions.

Are public screenings of television show episodes also included in PPR requirements?

All commercial media that is not within the public domain is included in the PPR requirements.

Do I need to obtain performance rights?

If the screening is open to the public, such as showing a foreign-language film to the community for cultural enrichment If privately viewing the film in your room with friends
If the screening is in a public space where access is not restricted, such as an instructor showing a film to a class for curriculum-related purposes in a public or unrestricted-access location If an instructor is showing a film related to the course to officially registered students in a classroom
If persons attending are outside the normal circle of family and acquaintances, such as showing a film to a club or organization, or showing a film for class but inviting others to attend If Copley Library has purchased the video that includes public performance rights (DVD or streaming film)

 Adapted from Williams College "Public Performance Rights" and Colby  College "Public Performance Rights (Film)"

Copyright for Libraries: Videos/Movies

Using Films from University Libraries

Some films have public performance rights included with the Libraries' purchase or subscription. In addition to films from the following companies, some films might have been purchased with public performance rights.

  • Kanopy: All films in Kanopy Streaming include public performance rights to be viewed by "any and all authorized viewers, whether in a group or individual viewing context. Viewing films in a group forum is permitted as long as the viewing is by authorized USD viewers and it is not for commercial benefit (i.e. no admission costs are charged and no profit is made from the screening)."

The responsibility to secure public performance rights lies with the individual or organization showing the film. Use the company's search function to find whether they own the rights to the film you wish to show. Most will have an option available to request a quote for obtaining the public performance rights to the film. Some common companies that license public performance rights include:

  • Swank: Swank Digital Campus does not include any type of PPR outside of course-related access. For extracurricular events please consult with the College Campus Department