District Viewing Guidelines

District Viewing Guidelines

Movies in the Classroom in Lewisville ISD


District Viewing Guidelines:

Teachers shall preview all movies, clips or videos including short clips or segments in venues such as You-Tube or PBS before using in a classroom. Teachers must then obtain approval of all films and videos from a campus principal or designee, such as an assistant principal or department chair. The District expects that only clips or segments will be used to emphasize or illustrate subject content; however, in the rare instance when a movie might need to be shown in its entirety, regardless of rating or grade level, the campus principal must approve.

  • R-rated movies or clips: Under no circumstances at elementary, middle or high school should a film that is R-rated be shown. For high schools only, campus principal may approve segmented clips if pre-viewed and proposed from a teacher; otherwise, R-rated movies will not be shown. At the high school level, a film or video that is rated “PG-13” and that is related to the instructional program may be shown only with prior written permission from the parents.
  • Pg-13 movies or clips: For middle school if related to the instruction, a film or video that is rated “PG-13” may be shown only with prior written permission from the parents.
  • At the elementary school level, a film or video that is rated “PG” and that is related to the instructional program may be shown in its entirety only with prior written permission from the parents as well as the building principal. Short clips or segments of “PG” films used for instructional purposes do not have to be pre-approved.
  • G films will only need principal approval if planning to show entire movie.

K-12 Copyright:

Group viewings of Movies at School (With No Educational Purpose):

Rainy day films and “after-school care” viewing of films is only legally permitted if the school itself has a public performance site license from Movie Licensing USA or another entity that may grant public performance rights. Schools without such a license will be held liable if an outside organization involves them in copyright infringement by permitting movies to be used in their facility.

Even with public performance rights, it is not legal to show a movie as a fund raiser.

Classroom Educational Viewing of Movies (K-12):

Under the "Educational Exemption" copyrighted entertainment movies may be shown in a school without copyright permission only if all criteria are met:

  • A teacher or instructor is present.
  • The showing takes place in a classroom setting with only the enrolled students are in attendance (it is not in an online environment or streamed where the students may access the movie from home).
  • The movie is used as an essential part of the core, current curriculum being taught. (The instructor should be able to show how the use of the motion picture contributes to the overall required course study and syllabus.)
  • The movie being used is a legitimate copy, not taped from a legitimate copy or taped from TV.

For specific requirements, please reference The Copyright Act of 1976, Public Law No. 94-553, 90 stat 2541: Title 17; Section 110(i), or consult your copyright attorney.

Fair Use

In the USA, the fair use allows teachers and students to use materials still protected by copyright without permission for these purposes: parody, commentary, criticism, news reporting, education and research in the classroom.

Video / film:

  • Students may use portions of lawfully acquired copyrighted works for their academic multimedia defined as 10% or 3 minutes whichever is less. – “ Despite longstanding myths, there are no cut-and-dried rules (such as 10 percent of the work being quoted, or 400 words of text, or two bars of music, or 10 seconds of video). Fair use is situational, and context is critical. Because it is a tool to balance the rights of users with the rights of owners, educators need to apply reason to reach a decision. The principles and limitations above are designed to guide your reasoning, and to help you guide the reasoning of others.” Refer to:
  • Copyrighted works must include proper attribution to the copyright holder.
  • Some old movies are in the public domain because of the failure to renew the copyright.

Public Domain:

Public domain is the status of literary work, inventions, videos, music who’s copyright or patent has expired or that never had such protection. In simple terms, if something is in the Public Domain it can be used without permission of the copyright holder. Public domain works, like all other creative materials, must be cited with attribution given to the creator of the work. Failure to renew copyright 28 years after a movie or TV show was made is the main reason that American films made before 1964 are currently in the public domain. In 1966 Congress prepared a new copyright law that extended protection to 75 years from the date a film was released.

A film may incorporate cinematography, drama, literature, music, art, and/or a trademark thus, it is more difficult to determine the public domain status of film than for any other media. Unfortunately, there is no single method for determining if a film, or parts of it, is in the public domain.

Public Domain Television: Most TV shows created before the 1970s, and those produced as the official work of the United States government, have entered the public domain, where the copyright holders have voluntarily released them.

Streaming Services:

“One increasingly common source for streaming content is a commercial video provider such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Even where such providers do not offer educational or institutional services, educators may have personal accounts with the service to which they can connect from the classroom in order to show movies and television shows to students. The ease and low cost of streaming services, however, do not necessarily translate into permissibility; faculty use of personal Netflix or similar streaming accounts in the classroom may not be legal. While certain provisions within U.S. copyright law (notably 17 U.S.C. § 110(i)) permit display of otherwise protected works in a not-for-profit classroom setting, the statutory exceptions, and the contracts underlying the service membership, may operate to prohibit this use of personal streaming accounts. Beyond the purely legal discussion, there are also ethical and institutional policy issues at stake.”

~Touro Law


The terms of use of the vendor take precedence over copyright laws unless the courts rule differently.


When a person signs the license agreement, the license restricts usage, including copyright exceptions. The Netflix user agreement overtly conveys “the Software is only for your own personal, non-commercial use and not for use in the operation of a business or service bureau, for profit or for the benefit or any other person or entity. Thus, when one signs a licensing agreement with Netflix, he or she in essence is agreeing to only stream videos in the privacy of his or her own home.” https://www.library.unt.edu/news/may-one-stream-netflix-video-class-use

Even if the film is in the public domain, it may not streamed through Netflix per their user agreement.

HBO connect

  • ACCEPTANCE OF TERMS: “This Service is designed for and targeted to Adults.”
  • “You may not copy, reproduce, distribute, publish, enter into a database, display, perform, modify, create derivative works, transmit, or in any way exploit any part of this Service, except that you may access and display material and all other content displayed on this Service for non-commercial, personal, entertainment use on a single computer or device only. “


  • “3.1 Age Limitations. The Services are not intended to be used by children without involvement and approval of a parent or guardian. If you are under the age of 13, you are not permitted to register with Hulu or provide your personal information to Hulu. If you are at least 13 and under 18 years of age (or under the applicable age of majority in your state or territory of residence), you may register with Hulu only if you have the consent of your parent or guardian, including consent to these Terms on your behalf.”
  • “3.2 Your License. Hulu is pleased to grant you a non-exclusive limited license to use the Services, including accessing and viewing the Content on a streaming-only basis through the Video Player, for personal, non-commercial purposes as set forth in these Terms.”
  • “3.6 Ownership. You agree that Hulu owns and retains all rights to the Services. You further agree that the Content you access and view as part of the Services is owned or controlled by Hulu and Hulu's licensors. The Services and the Content are protected by copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property laws.”


How do I perform a copyright search for a movie?

U.S. Copyright Office (www.copyright.gov)
Reference and Bibliography Section - LM451 Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20559-6000
Phone: (202) 707-6850
Fax: (202) 252-3485