Using Copyrighted and Library Content

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Library Research Guide

What You Should Know About Showing Films


This page will introduce you to the steps you can take to have a public showing/viewing of a film or a film festival. Much of the content and the resources are specific to K-State, but overall, the steps should stay the same. For example, if you are at another university, you would not be able to use a K-State streamed resource (which is licensed by the university to its users). However, your university or educational institution may have similar resources available.

A Note on the Term "Public Performance"

If you are interested in showing a film outside of the classroom or your home, your film showing will likely be considered a public performance. For definitions and examples of public performances, see Definitions.

If you want to have a public showing of a film or a film festival, you will need to consider the following options, preferably in chronological order:

  1. Find a film that does not have copyright protection
  2. Find a film that has an open license;
  3. Find a film that has public performance rights attached to it already, or;
  4. Purchase the necessary license to show the film.

These options are outlined in the next three boxes below with resources to help you in your quest to have a successful film showing event!

Find Public Domain and Openly Licensed Films

First find out if the film you want to show or if you can find a film that is either:

Unfortunately, the majority of films are not in the public domain and do not have open licenses, but you can do some searching and browsing first to find out if there is an openly available film out there to suit your needs.

Find or Request a Film from the Library

If the film you have or that you plan to obtain is not in the public domain and is not openly licensed, find out if you can find the film or a similar film that is available through the K-State Kanopy streaming services or a film owned by the library with the public performance rights attached.

Alternatively, if you cannot find the film in the library collections with the rights attached, you can first make a purchase request by filling out a Purchase Recommendation Form.

Obtain a Public Performance License

If none of the options above are available, then you will either need to purchase a public performance license or obtain permission from the film distributor to show the film.

See the Movie Guidelines at K-State below for steps to obtain permission and/or purchase the necessary license for your film showing or film festival.

If you have questions, you can contact the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship (CADS) at