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Films, DVDs and Videos: Changes to Kanopy access

Guidance on finding and using films in the library collections


From November 2020 the way films are accessed via Kanopy will change.

Previously, Kanopy's catalogue of films was open to students and staff to browse, and to select whichever film they wanted to view. Purchase of the films was made using the Patron Driven Acquisitions (PDA) system, which means that the library purchased a one year license for the film if it was viewed four times.

However, in recent months we have experienced a significant increase in the usage of Kanopy and therefore have seen a significant increase in costs.

As a result, from November 2020, we have decided to move to Kanopy's mediated PDA program. This means that instead of getting instant access to a film, users will need to complete a request form, which will be sent to the library for review. The library will then assess the request and if approved, Kanopy will switch on access to the film.

You can see more information about the different access models below.


If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch:

Kanopy films on reading lists

If a film is on a reading list and is available via Kanopy, you should not have to complete a request form.

The library will ensure these titles are purchased, so access should be immediate.

if you experience any problems with Kanopy films on reading lists, please contact

Kanopy access models

This is the model which the library will operate until the end of October 2020.

The library agreed to set aside a budget to purchase films from Kanopy. Kanopy made their entire catalogue of films available for viewing.

The library does not actually purchase any films until they are viewed. Kanopy defines a view as a single viewing of a film for more than 30 seconds. On the fourth viewing, the film is “triggered” and a purchase is made. The purchased film is licensed for unlimited campus wide use for one year. The trigger happens behind the scenes and the viewer is unaware when a film is triggered.

This is the model that the library will operate from November 2020.

Kanopy title browsing remains the same. When it comes to viewing a film, a request form will appear instead (see image below).

Please fill out this form and in your message specify the use (in-class screening, individual viewing for assignment, etc.) and a need by date. Once received, the library may email you for additional information before the film is purchased. 

We will prioritise requests needed for teaching and research.

Please note that all currently licensed films will still be available for instantaneous viewing, the form will only be presented when clicking on unlicensed films.

Kanopy request form

Although Kanopy is different from Netflix and Amazon they do share one similarity – they only license content, they do not sell content.

When we purchase a license from Kanopy or any other streaming video provider, we are essentially leasing the content, but do not own the content.

Licenses permit access for a defined period of time, in the case of Kanopy, we primarily purchase 1 year licenses but have the option to purchase a 3 year license. Our licenses with Kanopy permit individual viewing from on or off-campus, course-related screenings, and even campus screenings to University of Exeter students and staff.

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