Streaming Video : About


Image Credit: Loews Columbia [theater], exterior, showing the American drama film Humoresque (1920). National Photo Company Collection. Library of Congress.


What is streaming video?
Streaming video is content sent in a compressed format over the Internet and a local network. The streaming video file is played immediately and is not saved to a computer’s hard drive. The content is sent in a continuous stream of data and begins playing as it arrives to the receiving computer.  A host server delivers the file to the receiving computer. The host can be either local or remote. Multiple users can view the same video at the same time from different locations. Even with compression, effective use of streaming video requires a robust, high-speed internet connection.  

Collection Development Policy for Streaming Video
The current collection policy for streaming video by the Columbia University Libraries focuses on acquiring curated collections in database format  licensed either through subscription or purchase. These include collections such as Silent Film Online and others as listed in this guide. Individual titles are licensed when requested for course reserves. This includes requests for feature films, documentaries, or recorded performances. Many of these films are accessible through Kanopy and Swank Digital Campus. It is important to note that streaming license is not always available for educational purposes. 

What about Kanopy and Swank Digital Campus?
We do not provide full access to Kanopy or Swank Digital Campus platforms due to budget and forecasting concerns. We license individual titles from these platforms as requested for course reserves. 

Not all Kanopy films come with public performance rights (PPR). If a request for a campus screening outside of the classroom is required, you must contact Kanopy directly to ask if the film includes PPR.

If it is not available in a streaming video file, how can I find the film? 
It is important to note that a significant percentage of moving image content – feature films, television programming, and documentaries – do not and may never have streaming access. For alternatives to finding moving image content outside of what the library is able to license, check the section in this guide for Personal Streaming Services. These platforms do not offer educational license but are increasingly sources of unique content. Another alternative is to explore the Butler Media Research Collection, an exceptional repository in DVD and Blu-ray formats of more than 40,000 films and television programs. The collection is discoverable through the online catalog and can be viewed in the Periodicals Microfilm Reading Room (Butler 401). The collection circulates to officers and graduate students at request.  The loan period is one week.