Using Video in Your Course

Streaming Media Options

Western Libraries supports the use of media in courses, but the high cost of streaming videos, combined with budget constraints, and restrictive licensing options, limits what the Libraries can provide. Criteria for acquiring streaming video may be adjusted from quarter to quarter based on funding. Prior to the quarter, instructors should check the expiration dates, listed in OneSearch, for all library-provided films they hope to screen during the quarter.

Finding Streaming Content: Western Libraries provides access to a large number of licensed streaming videos.

  1. Check OneSearch and Academic Video Online 
  2. Or contact the Media Librarian to see if there are films already available

Course Reserves: Instructors may include streaming media in course reserves by using the Course Reserves Request Form. More information at the Course Reserves page.

Request Digital Streaming Media Form

Video tutorial for completing form

Time Constraints: Apart from a few streaming providers, such as Kanopy, setting up streaming agreements with vendors can be time-consuming. Requesters should plan ahead, since it can take several weeks to license these materials. Prior to the quarter, instructors should check the expiration dates, listed in OneSearch, for all the films they hope to screen during the quarter.

Criteria for Leasing: Western Libraries supports curricular-based streaming video as best we can given the budget constraints, restrictive vendor licensing terms, high costs (typical streaming rights for one year are $150-$600 per film), and the need for equitable distribution of streaming across the university. Because funding is limited, requests will be evaluated based on their relevance to specific coursework. The Libraries will accept requests from faculty, staff, and students until the streaming media budget for each quarter has been expended.

Duplication: At the Libraries’ discretion, streaming titles already owned on DVD may be leased, if needed, for an online course.

Commercially Available Film: The Libraries does not typically lease streaming rights for films which are readily available at a reasonable cost through commercial services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. However, given the financial strain facing many of our students, the Libraries may acquire streaming rights for these types of films on a case-by-case basis. Consult an online video aggregator such as to see which titles are available on major commercial streaming providers. Additionally, you may contact the Media Librarian for guidance.

Renewals: Upon expiration of a license--usually after one year--the Libraries will not proactively initiate a renewal. If a streaming title continues to be needed for a course beyond one year, the instructor should submit a new request for leased access, to be evaluated based on the leasing criteria outlined above.

Western Libraries strives to provide access to streaming video for curricular use whenever possible, however there may be situations in which the best option is to ask students to arrange for their own access. In these instances, the Libraries recommends providing students as much advance notice as possible.

Rentals: Rental fees can be quite modest ($3 - $4) and can be considered analogous to purchasing a book for classroom use.

Student Subscriptions: Consider asking your students to pay for content from a streaming provider such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, The Criterion Channel, etc. Some films may be available at your public library as DVDs or streaming. Whatcom residents are eligible for Whatcom County Public Library, or Bellingham Public Library cards that provide free access to these resources.

Help: Consult an online video aggregator such as to see which titles are available on major commercial streaming providers.

Hosting Video in Canvas: Canvas allows instructors to host media files up to a certain size for their courses. The default size is 2 GB. You can contact to ask for more space in your course.

Worried about copyright? Consider doing a Fair Use evaluation to determine whether you can host the media yourself. See the Western Libraries copyright FAQ for more information about this process and the criteria involved.

Converting Media: The Libraries does not currently have the infrastructure to convert physical media to digital formats.

Accessibility Accommodations: If you need a media item to be converted for accessibility reasons, please notify the Libraries and/or contact the Disability Access Center (DAC). The Libraries will work with DAC and Video Services to ensure that physical media collections are accessible to all users.

Copyright Info

Western Libraries has license agreements with various streaming providers to make some films available to faculty, staff, and students.

If you have a video file you’d like to use in a course, consider doing a Fair Use evaluation to determine whether you can host the media yourself. 

More questions about copyright?
Contact the Scholarly Communications Librarian:

Jenny Oleen, (360) 650-2613

Email Jenny Oleen

Western Libraries Copyright Services

Additional Video Resources

Non-Streaming Options

Western Libraries offers these options for using physical media in courses and assignments:

Requests: Faculty, staff, and students may request DVD items for purchase; these requests will be evaluated based on cost, availability through Summit, and curricular relevance. Preference will be for items that are available with closed captioning; if a DVD does not include captions, Libraries personnel may contact you to double-check the need before making a purchase.

Borrowing & Holds: DVDs and other media formats can be checked out by instructors for viewing in face-to-face classroom teaching. Once an item has been identified via OneSearch, it can be brought to the Haggard Circulation Desk for checkout or requested via Hold for pickup (location: Western Library) or delivery via Document Delivery. Note that items requested via Hold may not be ready for 24 hours.

Advance Bookings: Faculty and staff can also reserve media items more than 24 hours in advance by finding them in OneSearch, clicking Request Options, and selecting Booking. Booked items can be picked up at the Haggard Circulation Desk; or, faculty can select Document Delivery as the Pickup Location to have the item delivered to their departmental mailbox.

Copyright: Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act of 1976 permits instructors at nonprofit educational institutions to show entire films in the course of face-to-face classroom teaching provided that the video was lawfully made and acquired.

Physical Reserves: Instructors may place a physical media item (either a legally acquired personal or Western Libraries copy) on course reserves by using the Course Reserves Request Form. More information about course reserves is available on the Libraries website.

Locations for Viewing: Individual students may watch course reserves videos and other media in the Reserves area, or check them out for viewing elsewhere. Non-course reserves media may also be viewed in the reserves area.

Copyright: DVDs and other media in the Libraries collection may be loaned out and viewed under the First Sale Doctrine.

Media Librarian

Help: For help locating appropriate streaming content, contact the Media Librarian:

Jeff Purdue, (360) 650-7750

Email Jeff Purdue

Course Reserves

Help: For help getting your streaming video into course reserves, contact the Course Reserves Manager:

Joanna Bailey, (360) 650-7593

Email Course Reserves

Course Reserves for Instructors