Skip to Main Content

MRTS MFA: Educational Film Distribution: Edu Buyers

Resources for RTVF MFA students interesting in distributing their documentaries to the educational market.

About Educational Buyers

Who are Educational Film Buyers?

  • Libraries – Higher Ed, K-12 and Public
  • Individual educators or departments
  • Non profit groups, museams, archives


What type of materials do they want?

  •  All types of film to support instruction, research and entertainment
  • Narrative Documentaries and Features
  • “teaching films” -  might tie directly into K-12 curriculum standards
  • Ethnographic films
  • More experimental works – like animations or multimedia works



How do they want these materials packaged?

  • DVD/ Online
  • Length –  keep in mind the length of a class session (multiple lengths)
  • Captions
  • Discussion guides  


How are these films used?

  • Course instruction
    • Shown in the classroom
    • Assigned viewing outside of class
    • Online instruction
    • Part of a student assignment
  • Libraries want to circulate materials to patrons
  • Public Screenings - student or campus groups

How Copyright Applies to Edu Uses

How does copyright apply to uses by the educational community? There are several exemptions in Copyright Law that specifically apply to to educational use. See Copyright Considerations tab for additional details.

Purchasing the film

  • Exclusive right of copyright holder to distribute - directly or via 3rd party
  • Edu can't buy a copy unless someone is selling a (legal) copy
  • Copyright holders somewhat control the price

Showing a Film in Class

  • Copyright exemptions allowing instructors to show (perform/display) a film in class.
    • Face to Face teaching exemption
    • Fair Use

Use of a film in an online instructional environment

  • Copyright exemptions that allows film to be used on an online class
    • TEACH Act - "reasonable and limited portions"
    • Fair Use
  • Argument that neither TEACH or Fair Use usually allow the entire film to be put online

Circulating film to library patrons

  • Bill of First Sale

Public screenings

  • Exclusive right of copyright holder to perform/ display
  • Fair Use?

Review Sources for Educators/ Librarians



Is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition, bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries, educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.


An electronic clearinghouse for information about new services, products, resources, and programs of interest to video librarians and archivists, educators, and others involved in the selection, acquisition, programming, and preservation of video materials in non-profit settings.

Additional Links