Skip to main content

Copyright Information: Film & video in the classroom

Film & Video in the Classroom

Can I Play a Movie (physical copy) in the Classroom?

If your goal is to achieve an educational or training purpose, then yes, so long as  you follow the following rules (which are derived from section 29.5 of the Copyright Act):

  • you are faculty, staff or other person that is acting under the authority of MRU;
  • the class is taking place on MRU premises;
  • the audience is primarily students in you class;
  • the copy of the movie is not an infringing copy (e.g. pirated) or the person responsible for the performance has no reasonable grounds to believe that it is an infringing copy; and
  • you do not circumvent a digital lock.

If your purpose is non-educational (e.g. a social event or event open to the public), the provisions described above do not apply, and you will need a license to show the film.  Please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at for assistance in this regard.


Back to Top


Can I Play Online Videos in the Classroom?

If your goal is to show an online video for an educational or training purpose, then you may do so as long as you follow ALL of the following rules (which are derived from section 30.04 of the Copyright Act):

  • the video is available through the Internet;
  • you did not break or circumvent a digital lock to access or obtain a copy of the work (including user names with passwords);
  • there is no clear and visible notice on the website or on the video itself that prohibits the use or reproduction of the video (be sure to check the website terms of use!);
  • you do not suspect that the video was posted without the consent of the owner of the video (e.g. the website is generally reputable and the person who posted the video appears to have a connection with the content.  An example where you know or ought to suspect that a video is infringing is where you find a clip from a Game of Thrones episode that is posted by anyone other than HBO); and
  • you identify the source of the work and, if available and applicable, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster of the work.

YouTube videos may be streamed in the classroom for educational purposes provided that the video is accessed directly through the YouTube website (and satisfies the criteria listed above). YouTube videos cannot be downloaded and/or altered in any way for the purposes of showing the video in the classroom, nor may they be embedded or posted into Blackboard sites or other course websites.  It is your responsibility to check the YouTube terms of use before using the video.

Tricky bits: Showing the video in the classroom is not permitted if the content of the video itself violates copyright, i.e. if the video itself is an illegal copy. Also, if you need a username and password to access the video (as with Netflix) you should not show it in class.

MRU has also purchased access to a number of streaming video collections, including Films on Demand and the National Film Board of Canada, which can be shown in any classroom at MRU.


Back to Top


Troubleshooting: Can I show something off Netflix to my class?

Netflix is a commercial service provided to individual end users - not the University.  In other words, MRU does not have an institutional Netflix account.  Therefore your use of Netflix must comply with the Terms of Use you agreed to when you signed up for the service, and you are not permitted to show Netflix shows to your class.

The rights you may otherwise have had, for example the educational exception or other fair dealing exceptions do not apply if they are inconsistent with the Netflix Terms of Use.  If you have questions or concerns please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at

If you wish to play an audiovisual work currently on Netflix in your class, other options include:

  • Using LibrarySearch to see if the title is in the MRU Library collection (if not, consider speaking to your MRU subject liaison librarian about acquiring the title - they are happy to help);
  • Purchasing or borrowing a physical commercial copy of the video (such as a DVD or Blu-Ray); and/or
  • checking YouTube, or any other publicly accessible site, to see if the clip you wish to use is legitimately available.


Back to Top


Audiovisual Materials

Copying Audiovisual Works

Under the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines, you may make a copy of a Short Excerpt (up to 10%) of a copyright-protected audiovisual work and distribute the Short Excerpt for research, education, private study, criticism and/or review, among other purposes.  You may also copy or distribute a Short Excerpt (up to 10%) of a musical work that is in the form of sheet music, or an entire musical work if it appears in a book containing other musical works. These materials may be distributed via a classroom presentation or in an LMS, or by emailing the excerpt to students. There are, however, specific requirements that need to be met, encapsulated by the Safeguards outlined below.

Safeguards for Copying Audiovisual Works

Copies of Short Excerpts of audiovisual work are only to be provided or distributed to:

  • students enrolled in a course of study;
  • to other MRU faculty members and administrative staff of the university; and/or
  • to faculty members or students at another university with whom the faculty member is engaged in collaborative research.


Back to Top


Performing Audiovisual Works

A. Performance to students, at MRU premises, for educational or training purposes

The Fair Dealing Guidelines do not apply to the public performance of an audiovisual work. However, there are exceptions that allow MRU faculty and staff to perform an audiovisual work, musical work or sound recording under certain circumstances. MRU faculty and staff can rely on the exception in section 29.5(d) of the Copyright Act, which permits MRU faculty and staff to perform an audiovisual work:

  • before an audience consisting primarily of MRU students, MRU instructors or any person who is directly responsible for setting curriculum at MRU;
  • on MRU premises;
  • for educational or training purposes; and
  • the copy of the work being performed is not an infringing copy or the person responsible for the performance must have no reasonable grounds to believe that it is an infringing copy.

Please note: this exception does not permit the copying of any part of an audiovisual work, even if it is necessary to copy the work in order to perform it.

B. The Exception for Works Available through the Internet

Section 30.04 of the Copyright Act permits reproducing, communicating and performing in public by an educational institution or a person acting under its authority, for educational or training purposes of a Work that is made available through the Internet.  This includes an audiovisual work posted to the Internet (e.g. a video posted on YouTube). There are a number of conditions that must be met for the exception to apply; click here for more info.


Back to Top


Effect of a License Agreement

Some electronic versions of audiovisual works can only be accessed because MRU has entered into various license agreements that provide faculty and staff access to electronic versions of audio visual works, musical works and sound recordings. Some license agreements limit how these electronic versions may be copied, distributed or performed by the university (including its faculty and staff). Some licenses also require end users to agree to such limitations. These contractual limitations apply as a separate limitation from the Fair Dealing exception (including the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines) and section 29.5(d). Therefore, while the Copyright Act may allow a certain act of copying or performance, but if an applicable license prohibits that act, the license must be complied with if you wish to use that licensed version of the Work. 


Back to Top


Technological Protection Measures, aka Digital Locks

The Copyright Act refers to "technology protection measures," which are commonly known as TPMs or digital locks. The term describes any technology, device or component that does one of two things: controls or restricts the access to a work (for example, password protection) or restricts you from doing something with the work (for example, copying the work or downloading a copy). The Copyright Act makes it an offense to circumvent the first of these types of digital locks (the access restriction). You cannot circumvent a digital lock to obtain access to a copyright-protected audiovisual work, unless authorized by the copyright owner (for example, you have legitimately obtained the password).  For greater clarity, the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines do not permit the circumvention of digital locks to obtain access to a copyright-protected audiovisual work.  

Motion pictures and other audiovisual works that are published on DVDs are typically protected by a digital lock known as the Content Scrambling System ("CSS"). The MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines do not apply if it is necessary to circumvent a CSS lock in order to copy a Short Excerpt of an audiovisual work. However, it is permissible to reproduce a Short Excerpt under the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines through using a video recording device, e.g. a camcorder, to record a Short Excerpt from a computer, television screen or projection. It is also permissible to use screen capture software that enables the copying of DVD content after the content has been lawfully decrypted by a licensed computer DVD player. For further information, contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at


Back to Top



Content on this page has been copied and adapted from the "Copyright at UBC" website, created by the University of British Columbia under a CC BY 4.0 International License.

Have a copyright question?

If, after browsing this guide, you still have questions or require additional information please contact, or 403.440.6618.

Student drop-in office hours on the main floor of the RLLC will resume in September, 2019.