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The WSU Libraries can purchase streaming media for course use. In some cases, a streaming license can be acquired through one of the streaming distributors we work with. In other cases, the WSU Libraries may need to identify the rights holder for an individual film and determine if permission for streaming can be granted or if a license is available for purchase. Please note that streaming licenses for feature films, and films that have never had a US release can be costly. Further, please note that some films do not offer educational streaming licenses at all, and the libraries do not have control over this. Please allow us ample time to investigate licensing possibilities prior to relying on streaming video for your courses.
Once licensed through WSU Libraries, a link to the film will be available in Search It.
If the film you need is for a Global Campus course, your Global Campus elearning consultant may also be able to help you investigate licensing options and in some cases, alternatives.
Some things to consider regarding streaming licenses:
It may be difficult to identify a rights holder if the film did not have a US release, and in some cases the cost for streaming rights may be prohibitive. If you want to stream a film for class use, fill out the purchase request form to investigate whether the film is licensed for streaming and can be made available.
Licenses expire. Please verify that we still have access to a film before you plan to show it to your class. We would be happy to renew the license but need at least 24 hours to activate it.
Licensing terms vary, and depending on the anticipated time-frame needed for access to the film, perpetual streaming licenses and longer licensing terms might be more cost-effective than year-by-year terms. Licensing terms are usually listed on the film distributor's website and can vary by title.
Kanopy is NOT the only distributor offering streaming video. There are numerous options we can investigate.
Is the Film I Want to Include in my Course Available for Streaming?
While some streaming licenses are easy to investigate, others require further research to identify the rights holder, licensing, and possible streaming options.
The WSU Libraries work with several documentary film distributors to acquire streaming rights for titles that instructors use in WSU courses. Variation from distributor-to-distributor in regards to licensing often requires streaming rights to be investigated on a case-by-case basis. If you wish to stream a film for a class, please contact your liaison librarian to investigate licensing options.
Academic distributors include, among others:
Berkeley Media LLC is a distributor of independently produced documentaries and educational media representing producers around the world.
Bullfrog works with Docuseek2 to provide streaming access to their documentary films.
California Newsreel is the oldest, independent non-profit documentary center in the country and the first systematically to integrate media production and distribution with the media needs of contemporary social change movements.
Films Media Group
Content includes films and segments from Films for the Humanities & Sciences, ABC News, NBC News, BBC, National Geographic, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Bill Moyers, Shopware, The Open University, A&E, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Fred Friendly Seminars, Cambridge Educational, and many more.
Kino Lorber EDU
Offers institutional-priced DVDs (prices vary) as well as institutional digital site licenses (DSL) of $499 for unlimited streaming for the life of the digital file.
Media Education Foundation
Media Education Foundation produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical thinking about the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media.
New Day Films
New Day Films is a unique, filmmaker-run distribution company, providing award-winning films to educators, community groups, government agencies, public libraries and businesses since 1971. Democratically run by more than 150 filmmaker members, New Day delivers hundreds of titles that illuminate, challenge and inspire.
The Video Project collection features programs from over 200 independent filmmakers, including Oscar and Emmy winners, as well as films that aired on Showtime, HBO and PBS.
Women Make Movies
Offers streaming licenses for the life of the file format, with prices based on the full list price for the film.
Several companies provide access to content through subscriptions. In the cases below, the student would have to sign-up for a monthly subscription to the streaming provider, and would have to cancel the subscription once they are no longer needing to access the content. Some providers offer a free trial month, however the student would have to remember to cancel their subscription at the end of the trial in order not to incur a charge.
Over 5,000 documentary and feature film titles.
Available as a month-by-month, or annual subscription, subscribers can stream Sundance indie films and documentaries.
Created by the founder of Discovery Communications, CuriosityStream provides on-demand access to over 1,500 science, history, technology, and nature documentaries.
Rental Streaming Options
In cases where an institutional streaming license is not available, or is cost-prohibitive, instructors may want to explore rental options available through the providers listed below. Many of these options allow the student to "rent" the title for streaming, with viewing windows between 24 and 48 hours.
Amazon Instant Video
Amazon offers a variety of films available for 48 hour rental on its Instant Video platform.
Google Play offers purchasing and rental options. In some cases, the film can only be purchased, and not rented. Viewing windows for rentals are typically 48 hours.
The Vimeo platform offers rental options for streaming video from documentaries, to feature films.
The Roland Collection
The Roland Collection of films on art offers films related to history, culture, philosophy, emotion, human document, celebration, protest, and more. Titles can be rented for 48 hour streaming.
Streaming Feature Films
Swank Digital Campus is one of the few distributors that license feature films for academic environments. Institutional streaming licenses for feature films are often cost prohibitive. Some of the issues that complicate access to feature films include:
- Fewer streaming platforms for feature films: While there are a wide variety of streaming documentary platforms available, Swank Digital Campus is still the major platform for streaming most feature films.
- Restrictive licenses: Unlike purchasing a DVD that has a fixed price that is paid only once, feature film licenses have to be renewed every year which has the same financial impact as re-buying the same DVD every semester.
- A highly competitive commercial film industry: Distributors don't always want to make their films available to third-party providers like Swank. That means that both Swank and Kanopy, while providing films from a fairly large number of distributors, still are not able to provide every title we might want and may lose the rights to titles when distribution agreements expire.
- Streaming foreign-language feature films can be particularly complicated, particularly if the films has never had a US release. In such cases, no US-based distributor can make it available for streaming.
- Concern over copyright and piracy: Industry concerns complicate access and can contribute to a reluctance to provide streaming licenses to academic institutions.
Freely Available Documentaries
Offering free documentary titles, DocumentaryStorm, curates hundreds of documentary films available online for educational purposes as well as personal enjoyment. Titles can searched by category, or by consulting their full title list at: https://documentarystorm.com/full-documentary-list/
Free and on-demand video of the national programming and locally produced shows from the Public Broadcasting Service.