Media for Courses

The UW-Libraries supports the use of media for courses through licensed databases, the digitization and streaming of short portions of media, and physical course reserves.


The Libraries can help you find options for films you would like students to view to meet specific pedagogical requirements for your courses. Please fill out a request form with the titles you intend to use and the libraries can assist you in the best options for your media.

Getting Started

Please use this form to make a request, or contact with questions.

Using full Films or other Media in Courses

While current copyright law does not support the digitizing and streaming of full length films or other media except in specific circumstances, there are still several ways to provide access to full films for your course 

  • UW-Libraries license digital access to full length films through a variety of databases. Films available to all students, staff and faculty of UW-Madison can be found through our library catalog.
    • Some databases offer individual film licenses while others license packages of materials. 
    • Detailed information about our larger databases can be found here 
    • A complete list of audio and video databases can be found in our database library 
  • In accordance with 17 U.S.C. §110(1) the showing of a full film may be allowed in a face-to-face classroom setting when using the legally obtained physical media (unless the digital version has been licensed or legally obtained). Media and equipment to display the content can be checked out through the libraries 
  • If a film is available through a major streaming service such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Max you may need to consider the monthly subscription or rental fee as part of your course costs. Many of these services offer free trials.
    • A web search will often show options for streaming of films from major streaming platforms, sometimes free or free with ads. 
    • Netflix has made a selection of documentary features and series openly available on the Netflix U.S. YouTube channel.
  • The libraries can put physical media on reserve for your students to view on their own time. The libraries offer viewing stations and equipment checkout to access items on DVD or VHS tape
    • When a film is streaming from a major streaming service for a rental fee or subscription service, putting a copy on reserve can be a good alternative for students who do not want to access the content that way. 
  • You can attempt to obtain permission to use a digitized version of the entire film from the copyright owner
    • If you obtain permission, the libraries can assist in the digitization and streaming of the content
  • You can use films that are in the Public Domain. 
  • For films the libraries do not currently have access to please contact and curricular content staff can help you explore your options

Using portions or clips of films or other media in courses

In many cases the libraries can assist in the digitization and streaming of specific, short portions of media for use in courses. There is not a prescribed percentage of a work that constitutes a specific, short portion under current applicable copyright laws. Instructors should carefully consider their need and choose the smallest possible amount of a work to meet pedagogical goals such as a scene from a movie or TV episode or the chorus of a song. 

Requirements for digitization of physical media for streaming

  • The requested portion of the media is being used to meet a specific pedagogical requirement for a UW-Madison course
  • The item is owned by a UW-Madison library or is an otherwise legally obtained copy by the instructor. (Materials obtained through Interlibrary Loan are not included)
  • The item is in good condition
  • The item is in DVD, Blu-Ray Disc, or VHS tape. Mills Music Library may transfer any of its audio formats.
  • The requested media is not available through databases licensed by the UW-Libraries
  • The streamed media files reside on a server controlled and monitored by the UW-Madison Library System
  • Access to streaming content will become unavailable at the end of the current semester.
  • Instructors must request streaming items for each semester, specifying title, timestamped portions, and courses to be authorized

Please Note: The streamed media link is NetID protected. Authorization is based on course enrollment as provided by the UW-Madison Registrar’s Office

Technical Help

Please use the Libraries’ tech help form.