Screening films from Harvard Library for groups or events

The movie I have in mind is available through Harvard Library. Can I show it to my member group?

In most cases, a public performance license must be acquired in order to legally screen a film to a group other than a class. 

Public performance rights are often prohibitively expensive. This is why we don’t try to include them in our licenses, which are intended to support classroom and personal research needs. 

  • In the relatively few cases where the library already has public performance rights, they’re listed in the Notes field of the HOLLIS entry. 
    • Example: Under African Skies
    • To find these, put "public performance rights" in quotation marks into the main HOLLIS search box (it's a keyword search).
  • For a few of our streaming services, the library may be able to inquire about a public performance license. Please note that the library cannot fund the license. 
  • In most cases, the website for the film or the production company will have a permissions page where you can apply for public performance rights. 

More information about library materials, public screenings at Harvard, and public performance licenses:

Media available through the library, whether in "print" or streaming, is usually limited to personal research use or classroom use (in pursuit of a lesson). 

These allowances do not  apply to public screening, even in cases where one might argue an educational component. Worthy proposed Harvard activities which have required the acquisition of “public performance rights” include: 

  • Anti-racism film series
  • Departmental film screenings on educational topics
  • Association/member group film viewings
  • Library “movie nights”

Service Alert:
  • Ask a Librarian, including chat and email, will be suspended from 5:00 pm on Thursday, December 22, through Monday, January 2, for the holiday break. Any questions received during this period will be answered beginning Tuesday, January 2, 2024.
  • If If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during these times, please report it to Library Technology Services.

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