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Managing your Library Reserves

Notice Concerning Copyright Law

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. CSUSM strictly forbids any copying or distribution of E-Reserve materials for transmission to others. Unauthorized electronic transmission of reserve material may make a user liable for copyright infringement.

Fair Use for Electronic Reserves

What is Fair Use? 

U.S. Code Title 17 provides legal definitions on reproducing, sharing, and other uses of copyrighted materials. Section 107 of this law allows for the "fair use" of materials and allows that reproduction for "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching ..., scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a “fair use”, the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work being used
  3. the amount and substantiality of the work being used
  4. the effect of the use on the market for value of the original

Proper attribution must be obtained for all works on Electronic Reserve. Faculty who wish to place a student paper or other unpublished work on reserve must obtain written consent from the author before the work will be added. Please contact Library Reserves staff to complete the Permission for Created Works form for student papers or unpublished works. 

Library Reserves staff will not place material on reserve that does not comply with Fair Use or violates copyright laws. 

For more information about Fair Use, visit: Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright for Media Reserves

The University Library at CSUSM adheres to the United States’ Copyright Law (Public Law 94-533) of 1976 as amended, and urge all members of the CSUSM community to be aware of and abide by it.  We also adhere to the Off-Air taping guidelines for educational purposes.  Only open broadcast (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS) may be recorded. Pay services such as HBO, Cinemax, Disney, and free cable-only services such as Lifetime, USA, and MTV, do not fall into the open broadcast category and cannot be taped and put on reserve.

The titles in the Media Library’s collections are not cleared for audio or video duplication without the written consent of the copyright holder therefore the following guidelines have been developed to assist the Cal State San Marcos Library users in understanding the amount of copying permitted under the copyright law. 

For more information about copyright, go to the CSUSM Copyright Website

General Copyright Guidelines for Media 

  • Movies can be an integral part of a course’s learning materials. Showing a movie as part of a course generally falls under Fair Use, because there is no charge for admission and the movie is an integral part of your curriculum.
  • Written permission from the copyright holder is needed when using extensive amounts or making whole copies of owned material.
  • The individual who duplicates audiovisual materials in the Library’s collection in whole or in part, assumes full responsibility for that action.
  • If multiple copies of copyrighted media materials are needed, they must be purchased unless permission is granted by the copyright holder for duplication.
  • The Media Library does not have equipment to duplicate from one international standard to another (i.e. PAL to NTSC). 
  • The Media Library does not handle any requests for duplication of audiovisual material.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code ) governs the reproduction, distribution, adaptation, public performance, and public display of copyrighted material. Any person who makes an unauthorized copy or adaptation of a copyrighted program, or redistributes a loan copy, or publicly performs or displays the program, except as permitted by Title 17 of the United States Code, may be liable for copyright infringement.


Can I show a Netflix movie in my class? Generally, no. 

Netflix's terms of service, like those of most streaming services (Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu), restrict content for personal, non-commercial use. This means institutional or educational use isn't covered.

Exceptions: Some Netflix original documentaries have a special permission for educational screenings. See Educational Screening Permission tab for more information.

Here's more information...

While copyright law allows for exemptions in educational settings, like showing clips under fair use (Section 107) or using your own DVDs (Section 110), these exemptions can be overridden by the specific licenses streaming services have with copyright holders. These licenses might restrict educational use even though copyright law itself allows it. 

This creates a situation where streaming a movie from your personal Netflix account in class becomes problematic.  Your personal account is for non-commercial purposes, and a classroom setting falls outside that scope.

That's why libraries offer to obtain streaming videos through institutional subscription vendors like Alexander Street Press, Kanopy, Films on Demand, or Docuseek.  These vendors have licenses specifically designed for educational use, ensuring you can legally show content that enriches your lessons.

Educational screenings of documentaries

Some Netflix original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings.

To find out which titles are available for educational screenings, visit and search for the title or browse our recent and upcoming releases.

Titles that are available for educational screening will display either the following Grant of Permission or an Educational Screenings Permission (ESP) on their details page: 


Grant of Permission for Educational Screenings

Netflix is proud to present original programming that speaks to our users in a meaningful way. We know that many of you are as excited about these films and series as we are, and because of their informational aspects, you’d like to show them in an educational setting -- e.g., in the classroom, at the next meeting of your community group, with your book club, etc. Consequently, we will permit one-time educational screenings of any of the titles noted with this information, on the following terms:

The film or series may only be accessed via the Netflix service, by a Netflix account holder. We don’t sell DVDs, nor can we provide other ways for you to exhibit the film.

The screening must be non-profit and non-commercial. That means you can’t charge admission, or solicit donations, or accept advertising or commercial sponsorships in connection with the screening.

Please don’t use Netflix’s logos in any promotion for the screening, or do anything else that indicates that the screening is “official” or endorsed by Netflix.

"One-time screening" means that you can't hold screenings several times in one day or one week - but if, for example, you're an educator who wants to show these films or series once a semester over multiple semesters, that's okay.

We trust our users to respect these guidelines, which are intended to help you share and discuss our content in your community.

source: Netflix and Educational Screening

To show educational documentaries in your classroom:

  • You'll need a personal Netflix account.
  • Before showing any film, double-check the details page to confirm the "Grant of Permission for Educational Screening" still applies.
  • Films added after 2021 will have a link that says "Before screening this title, read the Educational Screening Permission (ESP)." Be sure to review the ESP.


Netflix offers a selection of educational documentaries on YouTube, providing instructors with engaging resources to enrich their online classes.

Educational Documentaries | Netflix YouTube Playlist