School group showing copyrighted material?

← Return to forum

  • Hello!

    I work a small academic institution and one of our students wants to show Game of Thrones episodes in the weeks immediately prior to the final season.

    Other than possibly providing the room, the library will not be involved in any way. The student will be providing the episodes themselves (I believe through HBO's streaming service).

    I am inclined to let them reserve a room if they want to, with the caveat that we aren't sponsoring the event.

    I would appreciate any thoughts or insight this group may have.

    Thank you!


  • I hate to be a Debbie Downer but these planned screenings probably voilate the contract terms of HBO which restrict used to "personal" and "non-commercial."  The personal part is the problem.  Naturally, HBO wants its viewers to buy their services and not share with friends.  

    As the librarian reserving their room, what should you do?  I'm not sure.  You have several options.  I probably would tell the students that the screenings violate their HBO contract as an FYI.  I may ask that they hold their screenings elsewhere...however, the risk of getting caught is LOW.  What might HBO do if it learned about this screening? Maybe ban the student from obtaining an HBO account?  

    I'd be interested in what others -who actually work in libraries - think.


  • Here's a response from copyright scholar Peggy Tahir:


    My first thought is that it is probably in violation of the licensing contract with HBO. I don’t think we would let someone reserve a room in our library to stream from a personal account vs having a legitimate copy. It could lead down a slippery slope, with people hearing about it and wanting to do more of this type of personal streaming for groups using library spaces. I also think the risk of getting caught is very low, but I still would not want to allow it in the library. The entire box set of seasons 1-7 is $99 on amazon, and  buying any one season runs between $2.99-$26.00. So it’s not a terrible burden to purchase a legit copy in order to show it.



  • An additional thought: purchasing a DVD doesn't necessarily make these showings OK. Copyright law provides exemptions for "face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction" (Section 110). Non-public performances, i.e. those which consist only of "normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances" are also OK.

    This activity sounds like it probably wouldn't fall under the first exemption. It might or might not fall under the second.

    I'll leave it to you to evaluate the risk, as others have commented.

  • Good point newcomer. Buying the DVD set does not mean that you have public performance rights other than what we have in 110.

Posting to the forum is only available to users who are logged in.

← Return to forum