Free Streaming Video Sites

Fair Use and Streaming Videos

The Copyright Act at §110(1) (face-to-face teaching exemption) allows for the performance or display of video or film in a classroom where instruction takes place in the classroom with enrolled students physically present and the film is related to the curricular goals of the course.

The TEACH Act amendment to the Copyright Actcodified at § 110(2), permits the performance of a reasonable and limited portion of films in an online classroom. Under the TEACH Act, there is an express limitation on quantity, and an entire film will rarely constitute a reasonable and limited portion.  Using the TEACH Act Checklist will help instructors to comply with the requirements when showing films in online classes.

Instructors may also rely upon fair use for showing films in an online course, although showing an entire film online also may not constitute fair use.

Content adapted from the University of Florida under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Netflix & Subscription Services Best Practices

Commercial providers of content such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Showtime, etc. license their content to individuals, but not to institutions, often making that content unavailable for institutions to license and make available.  When you subscribe to any of these services, you accept their end user license agreement.  These services tend to use the same terms of the agreement, which do not allow classroom or educational use.

Streaming Option: Ask Students to Subscribe

If you intend to use feature films in your class, consider asking your students to pay for content from a streaming provider such as NetflixHuluAmazon, etc. 

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


Can I show a YouTube video to my in-person and online classes?

Yes, using YouTube to demonstrate pedagogical points is fine, however, do not use YouTube videos that contain infringing content just as you would not use any other type of infringing content. YouTube is particularly full of such material despite YouTube's best efforts. The best way to handle a YouTube video is to link to it. Use YouTube's embedded code for linking.

Source: Copyright & Fair Use: Media in the Classroom, University of Texas Arlington

Best Practices

The Society for Cinema and Media Studies Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use in Teaching for Film and Media Educators

This code of best practices in fair use in teaching for film/media educators was designed by The Society for Cinema and Media Studies. It deals with classroom screenings, broadcasts, and derivative works.