College Libraries Save Money By Ignoring Netflix Terms Of Use

Plenty of Americans have cut their household entertainment budgets by subscribing to Netflix instead of seeing movies in theaters or purchasing DVDs. Now, some college libraries are doing the same thing, sort of. They’re using rented DVDs or streaming video instead of purchasing the movies that professors assign. Is this a violation of Netflix’s terms of use? Yes. But the librarians don’t particularly care, and Netflix doesn’t seem to, either. Yet. As a Netflix spokesman said, “We just don’t want to be pursuing libraries.”

One librarian at a small college experimenting with using Netflix blogged:

Our library has a very limited budget when it comes to film purchasing, especially popular titles. Netflix has saved us an enormous amount of money (around $3,000) by allowing the physical rentals as well as instant play. The streaming movies have been a great success; instead of students waiting for the one DVD on reserve, they can go to the computer or into the library’s film viewing room, where we have a Roku player set up, and watch the movies on our flat screen TV. The amount we save just having the instant play is significant; it’s almost like having multiple copies of the movie on reserve.

Handy. But is it permitted, when Netflix subscribers promise that they will use the service only for personal use? Another librarian told the Chronicle of Higher Education that she hasn’t pretended that the subscription isn’t for library use, and the account is in the library’s name.

“They certainly know that universities are using their service… They have their licensure for a variety of legal reasons. I don’t think that they mean it as a strict prohibition against using their materials for face-to-face teaching.”

Academic Libraries Add Netflix Subscriptions [Chronicle of Higher Education]
Using Netflix at an Academic Library [Tame The Web]