Netflix – Educational screenings of documentaries

A post by Faculty Librarian Ben Taylorson

I’ve worked for Durham University Library and Collections for many years (since the last millennium in fact, for those that are counting) and one of the more difficult requests to fulfill in terms of resource provision has always been documentaries.

In the olden days (read: pre-internet, or internet as we know it today, at least) it was a matter of acquiring a hard copy on VHS and then latterly DVD. Documentaries released for educational purchase were usually considerably more expensive to buy in hard copy when compared to, say, mainstream movies released in the same format. This was, presumably, as the producers knew or expected a copy sold to an educational institution would be screened to a large cohort of students, thus the cost of one copy needed to reflect that.

Anyway, along came the internet to solve all of our problems, right?


As I’m sure you’ll be aware of as an everyday consumer of media, there are multiple platforms/paywalls that media can be hidden behind when you’re looking for that latest big movie release – be it Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV or Netflix (and others)

The same is true of educational materials, and we subscribe to a number of different media resources to meet the needs of our users. But we can’t subscribe to them all!

The most frequently asked-about ‘anomaly’ is Netflix. They do not offer an institutional subscription, so we as a library cannot subscribe and make their content available to our users. But I recently discovered that there is a way in which Netflix content can be utilised in an academic context.

Some Netflix original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings.

To find out which titles are available for educational screenings, visit and search for the title or browse the recent and upcoming releases.

Titles that are available for educational screening will display either a Grant of Permission or an Educational Screenings Permission (ESP) on their details page:

GRANT OF PERMISSION FOR EDUCATIONAL SCREENINGS Netflix is proud to present original documentaries that speak to our users in a meaningful way. We know that many of you are as excited about these films as we are; and because of their informational aspects, you’d like to show them in an educational setting -- e.g., in the classroom, at the next meeting of your community group, with your book club, etc. Consequently, we will permit one-time educational screenings - "one-time screening" means that you can't hold screenings several times in one day or one week, but if, for example, you're an educator who wants to show the film once a semester over multiple semesters, that's okay. Educational screenings are permitted for any of the documentaries noted with this information, on the following terms:

The documentary may only be accessed via the Netflix service, by a Netflix account holder. We don’t sell DVDs, nor can we provide other ways for you to exhibit the film.
The screening must be non-profit and non-commercial. That means you can’t charge admission, fundraise, solicit donations, or accept advertising or commercial sponsorships in connection with the screening.
The documentary shall not be screened at any political campaign events and/or electoral campaigning events.
Please don’t use Netflix’s logos in any promotion for the screening, or do anything else that indicates that the screening is “official” or endorsed by Netflix.
We trust our users to respect these guidelines, which are intended to help you share and discuss our documentary content in your community.
To the extent your institution requires you to demonstrate that you have a license for your screening, please show them this page.

Whoever is screening the documentary will have to have a personal Netflix account of their own, but as many people do, this represents another way of making more academic content available to our students.

Leave a Reply

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: