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A Guide to... Copyright, Fair Use, and Licensing: Holy Cross Licensing & Policies

What is Licensing?

A license or licensing agreement is a permission granted by copyright holders for certain people or groups of people to use their work with specified terms. Having a license does NOT mean you can use a work completely as you see fit - the copyright holder has the right to stipulate how you may use their work and for how long you can obtain the license. 

The library purchases licenses by way of database subscriptions, E-book packages, Journal subscriptions, and more so that Holy Cross Community members may use copyrighted materials for educational purposes. This page will detail (generally) what you can and cannot do with copyrighted materials we have licenses for. 

Public Performance Rights

Public Performance Rights (PPR)

Public Performance Rights (PPR) are the legal rights to publicly show a film or video (media). Normally the media producer or distributor manages these rights. The rights-holder (or their designate) can assign PPR to others through a Public Performance License. Note, this is similar to licensing in that these rights supercede general copyright. Individual licensing and PPR are specific to the rights-holder.

It is considered a public performance if any of the following are true:

  • The screening is open to the public
  • The screening is in a public space (dorm lounge, library, auditorium, etc.)
  • Access is not restricted 
  • Persons attending are outside normal constituency (visitors to campus)

When are Public Performance Rights Required? 

PPR are required if you are screening copyrighted media to audiences for purposes that fall outside regular curriculum-based instruction. These include:

  • Student organization events (e.g. movie night)
  • Meetings, programs, or other events on campus
  • Film series/festivals

PPR are not required for:


Electronic Reserves Policy

Electronic Reserves

What are Electronic Reserves (E - Reserves)?

Electronic reserves or E - Reserves are electronically accessible, full text images of articles, book chapters, or other media that meet fair use guidelines. They allow students access to course readings or materials electronically through canvas. E - Reserves are NOT a replacement for textbooks or other purchased course material.

Who do I contact about requesting E - Reserves?

For more information on how E - Reserves work and how to request them, please email  Please include a syllabus/specific instructions regarding how you would like your materials posted on Canvas (order of readings, folders, headings, bibliographic information).

Video FAQ

Can I bring my own copy of a film into class?

Yes, if it is limited to your classroom use, and it is "lawfully" made. 110(1) of the Copyright Act.

Can I show a Netflix/Amazon Prime/Max film in class?

Maybe; it's complicated. See Shontavia Johnson's post from The Faculty Lounge for more detail. We highly encourage you to call us in the library or ITS for verbal advice on how to handle a synchronous showing of a film in class. There may be technical restrictions in tech-equipped classrooms.

Can I give my personal copy of a DVD to digitize and place on Canvas (in its entirety)?

No. We recommend that the library buy a copy of the DVD to put on physical reserve. Or, we can try to secure the film with a license suitable for online access from a class of students (from Kanopy or other platform).

Can I ask the library to catalog and house my personal copy of a film I recorded from TV?


Can I require my students to use their own streaming accounts to access a particular film?

Yes. Keep in mind, however, that streaming services sometimes drops access to titles, so always check to make sure it is still available for the dates you're looking for. is a helpful source for seeing all the platforms available for a particular title. Also, please be aware that not all students have access to streaming services due to prohibitive costs - encourage your students to watch things in groups and contact a librarian to help find free and legal alternatives. 

We recommend the following options for making films available to students:

1. Talk to your subject librarian to see if the publisher or a database vendor offers a streaming license. We will investigate all options to see how best to access the film. We consider many different sources, including Kanopy, Docuseek, Swank, special performance licensing DVDs when available, etc. 

2. Consider donating your own DVD to the library, making it available to the entire campus as well as potentially making it available to use the digitized version from Lumiére, a consortial platform that Holy Cross subscribes to. 

3. Compile selected excerpts for use during class &/or posting to Panopto/Canvas.