Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Montana State University - Home Montana State University Library - Home Ask the Library

Videos, DVDs, and Public Performance Rights at the MSU Library

Videos and DVDs at the MSU Library

Please check out the newly released Fair Use and Video: Community Practices in the Fair Use of Video in Libraries

What types of videos does MSU Library acquire?

Like all areas collected by the Montana State University Library, the video/DVD collection is developed in support of the teaching and research missions of the University.  Many videos/DVDs are affordably priced and can be easily acquired by MSU for use in the classroom or by individuals.  Because of the nature of the film production market, many videos/DVDs are priced to include public performance rights, regardless of whether there is any intention to ever show these films publicly.  So, many times we are unable to acquire films because they are priced outside of what our budget allows.


How do I find out what videos/DVDs the MSU Library owns?

To see what the MSU Library owns, search CatSearch for Physical Items and use the side limit of Video


How can I request a video/DVD for purchase by the MSU Library?

You can use our purchase request form to ask for the library to acquire a title.


Can we show video/DVDs over the Web?

While the viewing and sound quality may not be ideal, it is considered OK to show a DVD during WebEx classroom time, just as you might show a DVD in an actual classroom with your students physically present.  This is regardless of Public Performance Rights, which have no bearing on educational or fair uses of media.  Showing video content from a streaming service is a bit more complicated.  Streaming service subscriptions typically allow for individual use only and sharing that content with others, even in a classroom setting, is a violation.  However, if the content is not made available anywhere else and if students absolutely cannot get access on their own, faculty can cautiously show media that is pertinent to their curriculum. 

Consider asking your students to subscribe to a streaming video service such as NetFlix or AmazonPrime as a required resource for your course as you might have them purchase a textbook. 

Questions about copyright and showing film in the classroom?  Please contact Leila Sterman, Scholarly Communication Librarian.


Can you copy a VHS video from the library to a DVD format?

Because of restrictions in copyright law, we are not allowed to copy from one format to another unless the current format is unusable or there are no readily available viewers for these resources.  Since VHS players are still being made and sold, VHS is not considered an obsolete format.  If you need a DVD format of an item, please request that the library purchase a copy.

Fair Use and Public Performance Rights Videos and DVDs at MSU

What are Public Performance Rights?

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 can assign PPR to others through a Public Performance License. 

What is Fair Use and when are Public Performance Rights required?

Fair Use is described by the U.S. Copyright office on their Fair Use page.  Fair use includes the exemptions to when public performance rights are not required, including:

  • Home viewing
  • Screening media in the context of face-to-face teaching in the service of regular curricula
    • See: Title 17 of the United States Code


Public Performance Rights are required for:

  • All screenings of copyrighted media to audiences outside of regular curriculum. Examples:
    • Student club events
    • Extracurricular sponsored events such as general lectures
    • Film series
    • *NONE of these forms of showing should include a charge for viewing*

Why should you learn about Public Performance Rights?

Showing media, whether borrowed from the library or rented / purchased, to groups outside of the classroom may be illegal, and may place the University at risk.

Does the MSU Library purchase videos with Public Performance Rights?

Since the MSU Library acquires media to support the curriculum, and face-to-face teaching is exempt from PPR, the MSU Library does not typically secure PPR with video purchases. However, many distributors of our educational videos include PPR in the purchase price, which means these videos can be shown anywhere to anyone.

How can you tell if a video from the MSU Library has Public Performance Rights?

Videos in the MSU Library collection with PPR include a note in the “Summary” field of the catalog record: Includes Public Performance Rights for MSU Bozeman.

Securing Public Performance Rights

Individuals and organizations are responsible for obtaining performance rights for all publicly screened media.

Some companies to contact to secure (license) PPR:

More information about PPR


*Thanks to Deg Farrelly at Arizona State University Libraries for his permission to re-use much of the language found on his Public Performance Rights guide.