The University of Michigan Library Copyright Office provides help with copyright questions for University of Michigan faculty, staff and students. Please email us with questions or visit our website for more information.
The information presented here is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions pertaining to the University of Michigan, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.
If you require legal advice in your personal capacity, the lawyer referral services operated by the Washtenaw County Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan may be helpful to you.
Remember that you do not need permission if you are using something that is not copyrightable or is in the public domain. You also don't need permission if you are using it in a way that does not implicate one of the rights of copyright holders or is permitted by a user’s right, such as fair use. For more information on these topics, please consult Copyright Basics.
The University Library provides an abundance of streaming film to the U-M community for use in instruction, research, and personal interest. This guide provides information about the rich variety of databases that are available for use, and how to request streaming for specific documentaries or feature films.
Instructors may place streaming film requests. When available, film links can be inserted in Canvas course sites. Please use this form to submit streaming film requests.
Instructors can also assign specific films in our physical collections by placing titles on reserve for students to watch in the Askwith Media Library. Please contact the Askwith Media Library staff to make reserve requests at email@example.com or (734) 764-5360.
Please note that public performances of films require the appropriate permissions. For more details, see the Show a Movie on Campus webpage.
Netflix allows one-time educational screenings of some Netflix Original documentaries. For more information, see Netflix's policy on Educational Screenings of Documentaries.
The following organizations issue licenses for public performance or display of audiovisual works.
If you want to license a work or a right not covered by licenses from the collective management organizations listed above, going directly to the studio or the distributor is another option. For instance, if you are seeking a license for clips or stills from a studio film, it is common to get that license from the studio. Licensing departments for many major studios and distributors are linked in the list below.
Many audiovisual works contain "layers" of copyrights and other rights that may be controlled by separate rightsholders. In some cases, (e.g., when you obtain a public performance license from a licensor such as Criterion or Swank) the licensor provides all the rights you need. In other cases, a single licensor may not be able to provide all the rights you need. For example, in some cases, a studio may not be able to license the background music in a film clip.
Privacy and publicity rights in many states require that filmmakers obtain releases from a film's actors in order for the film to be distributed. If the actor is a SAG-AFTRA member, the terms and rates for such releases are often determined by union rules.