Sunday, February 26, 2012

Netflix in the Classroom?

Many weekends and Christmas breaks I have spent hours watching past seasons of my favorite shows or devouring episodes of a show I always meant to watch using my home streaming of Netflix. I even have my very own Netflix library with everything I intend to watch waiting patiently in my own, personally created queue. Could this Web 2.0 tool have a place in a classroom?
Recently, my students have explored the life of Moses, the great religious leader. We read about him, we discussed him, we have researched him, and the other day I wanted to share with them the Dreamworks movie, Prince of Egypt. I felt it would provide another perceptive of everything we did in class. I do not own this movie, but I wanted to quickly get a copy and have them watch it that week. After I called my local Barnes and Nobles and Target I found that they did carry copies either. Not thinking about going directly to an easy online source, Netflix, I changed my plans and my students never watched the video. It was this Web 2.0 project that made me stop and thinking, could I use my Netflix account to quickly access any video I may want to share with my students? I know that when I clicked the agreement box for Netflix, I agreed I would not use any of their videos for commercial purposes, but is my classroom considered commercial? This is a question I am very curious about. In thinking back to several course I took in college, one in particular on history through Oliver Stone’s movies, creating a Netflix queue for a course would have been very easy for my professor. Maybe this Web 2.0 could be useful for educators?


  1. I have often wanted to show clips or whole movies that apply to my classroom. This seems like an easy way to do it! I think that there are definitely some major copyright issues.

  2. I agree. Lots of copyright issues I am sure. I am wondering if Netflix is thinking of a way to offer some sort of educational use subscription.

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  4. Actually, the copyright issues are interesting. Public schools definitely wouldn't qualify as commercial enterprises. Because you are in a non-profit private school, you generally qualify for the same copyright exemptions as public schools, but I don't know if you would be considered a commercial enterprise in the eyes of Netflix and thus be violating your user agreement.

    However, as far as copyright goes, you are actually in pretty good shape if and only if the movie is being use for educational purposes, and you are using the minimum necessary for your educational objectives. If a short clip of the movie would get your point across, you should only show the short clip. But if the entire movie is necessary for your educational purposes, this falls under fair use. The difficulty arises when the line is blurred between entertainment and education (or not blurred at all, and the use is clearly entertainment); then it becomes a violation of copyright. I am not a lawyer, but I have looked into this issue.