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Syracuse University Libraries

Film and Video Guide

A guide to identifying, locating, and viewing video collections.

Finding and Requesting Films and Videos

The Libraries provides over 100,000 streaming titles, in addition to about 15,000 physical films here are options for identifying titles in the collections.

DVDs, VHS, and other physical format film and video can be located using:

  • SU Libraries catalog
    • choose advanced search
    • change Format to “Video - DVD or VHS” and search by title, subject, keyword
  • Summon (search box on SU Libraries' site)
    • type title, subject, keyword in the search box
    • select: "content type"
    • select: "video recording"

Streaming video can be located using:

Additional note: The Special Collections Research Center (including the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive and University Archives) holds extensive historical and archival media resources in a wide variety of formats.

Not able to find a title you need?

  • Contact a subject librarian or submit a request via the Suggest a Title form.
  • Consider whether any films we already have online meet your pedagogical needs in place of your original choice.
  • Ask if SU Libraries can license an online version of the film you want. This will ensure no copyright issues.  Use the Suggest a Title form or contact your subject librarian to request a title.
  1. Often, we can license a film directly from a streaming platform and provide you with a link.
  2. In some cases, we can secure rights to locally host the streaming file for a film.
  3. In other cases, we can license digital streaming rights for a DVD.  If so, we can legally rip the film and then also host that file locally.
  4. In either 2) or 3) we will upload the file to the AVON platform, from which you can link to it.

What if the Libraries can't license a streaming video or film you want online? Options include:

  • Free.  It may be freely available on YouTube or Vimeo or elsewhere.  It may also be available in more legally dubious places online; obviously do not send your students there.  But if you can find what you need on YouTube or similar, simply linking to it (not downloading) is probably fine.  Just be aware that the film could be pulled offline without notice.
  • Personal streaming services.  Check to determine online availability.  JustWatch includes multiple commercial streaming platforms, including Netflix Hulu, and Amazon, as well as options for one-time individual film rentals.  JustWatch will also indicate free online streaming options.
    • The Libraries cannot license films native to personal streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.  These providers only sell to individuals, not institutions.  Your students may already either have an account with one or can sign up for a trial or subscription.
    • Affordability: Assigning Netflix or other commercial streaming services is OK.  Many personal streaming services offer short free trial periods, which are helpful. Here are some options:
  • There may be limited situations in which the Libraries can legally digitize a physical film (DVD or VHS) in our collection and convert it to a streaming format.  See Does the Libraries digitize films in its collections for course use?

Kaltura is provided by Information Technology Services and can host streaming files in a secure manner when directly embedded in Blackboard.  However, if you are considering using Kaltura in this manner, it does not change the underlying copyright issues or automatically mean entire films can be legally be digitized.  Regardless or platform, converting entire films most likely falls outside Fair Use.  Use of media for distance education purposes also means the TEACH Act must be considered and adhered to.

The Libraries use Kaltura as a hosting platform when we digitize films from our collections for streaming in courses.  See Does the Libraries Digitize Films in its Collections for Course Use? for more information about this process and to initiate a request.

For more information on Kaltura, see

Final Thoughts
Streaming films are among the most difficult online course materials for the Libraries to procure.  Securing streaming rights is sometimes not possible!  However, the Libraries will do all we can to verify if a commercially available streaming version (institutional or personal) is available.

Streaming films also take considerable time to procure, as most films must be licensed individually, and there are several different business models we need to work with depending upon whom the distributor is.  As a result, plan on films taking several weeks from request to full availability if licensing is possible.

If converting a film to a streaming format is determined by the libraries to be the only option for course access and fair use does not apply, then the TEACH Act must be observed.  Restrictions on how much of the film can be digitized for use and how it is distributed must be met.

Bottom line: Don't be afraid to assign films for your course, but also don't be cavalier about copyright.  And allow sufficient time for the Libraries to work through all necessary steps to secure you a copy of a film that can be legally streamed.  Current recommended time is to allow at least one month from request to availability, though individual films may take longer, depending upon circumstances.