Internet piracy is bad... so how do I show a movie to my class?

So you're a teacher and you're looking for resources that you can show your class for media studies, literacy or as a reward on the last day of term.
 
In days gone by, you would simply stop at your local Civic Video the night before and pick up your VHS, Betamax or DVD video that you had booked a few weeks in advance, take it into school with you and show the video on your multimedia trolley. These DVD rentals were covered by the copyright exception only if it was being shown for instructional purposes. You would not be allowed to do this for an audience that includes parents, siblings, or other members of the public.
 
Nowadays, particularly since the COVID19 lockdown was imposed, there simply aren't a heap of video stores you can drive past to do this. Further, your latest TELA laptop likely doesn't have a DVD player!
 
So what can you do?
 
Some will reach out for 123movies, Popcorn Time or some other torrent/warez site - only to find that N4L has blocked their access… or for their favourite VPN tunnel - only to find that their school has employed a working Internet filter like Linewize by Family Zone to add extra security to their N4L connection!
 
Hmm... what to do... Some might choose to download the movie on their home Internet connection and bring into the school network to display to their class - or even the whole school. Sorted! 
 
Only you've broken several laws, many times over and likely have created a lot of other issues… including some which may cause the destruction of your whole school’s data repository which is not going to make you very popular. As the old adage goes - there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Also, your issued device belongs to the school (or, more specifically, to the Ministry of Education) and is subject to random searches by these owners of the device.
 
Some might be tempted to reach for their favourite streaming service (e.g. Netflix, Lightbox, Apple TV etc), but this is very likely to be against the relevant terms of service and may well cause you to be banned from the service. As an example, Netflix allows the screening of content from the "Only On Netflix" section of their site, but this doesn't extend to their other licensed content.
 
Breaches of copyright can lead to fines or imprisonment to you personally and when done on your school’s property (including on their Internet connection) fines can be issued to the school board.
 
“Enough of what we can’t do! Tell me what I can do?”
 
The good news is that there are actually plenty of other resources available:
  • Your local library will have a bunch of resources (see here as an example);
  • The National Library has even more resources, however good, high-quality classical resources are becoming ever more scarce;
  • The New Zealand Film Commission's video-on-demand platform, available here, has over 100 NZ films available for use as educational resources;
  • Doc Edge Schools provides a subscription-based video-on-demand platform for schools in New Zealand;
  • The Education Television and Video Communications Trust, available here, operates as an Education Resource Supplier;
  • There are also myriad video resources available on YouTube, including several previously copyrighted works. These include several feature films and topic studies on playlists such as this one. Please do understand that many of these works will still be age-restricted and therefore require you to determine the New Zealand-specific age restriction that was applied to that work;
  • If your school owns the content you wish to display to your school as a learning resource, you can also set up a media server on your school’s network with access controls to prevent external access to these resources. You can then connect to the media server and stream locally on your network. It is important to note that you are theoretically now broadcasting content, so it would be good to clear this with your school’s lawyer before proceeding if the content in question is a DVD that was licensed for personal use only. You should also likely have a board-approved policy in place detailing which types of content and/or acceptable sources for such content before storing it on your media server. 
If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can protect your network from illegal activities, please feel free to contact us for an objective discussion about the strengths and limitations of your school’s filtering and ways to solve these limitations.
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