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Requesting Videos on Kanopy

A guide to requesting films available on Kanopy.

Kanopy Access Changes

Kanopy is a very popular online streaming service at University of Memphis. University Libraries began offering Kanopy in 2017, making a number of high-quality documentaries and feature films from sources like Janus Films (Criterion Collection) and the Media Education Foundation available to the University of Memphis community through what is known as a patron-driven acquisition program (PDA).

Kanopy's PDA Program 

A PDA program allows users to decide what films the library licenses. Four views of a film trigger a one-year lease of the title. 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 by the Library. 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 limited window of 30 seconds means that films can be triggered even if they are not watched to completion and without approval from a librarian. Over the years this has caused the annual cost of Kanopy licenses to skyrocket beyond what is sustainable for the University Libraries' budget.

Moving Forward

In order to retain Kanopy as a resource to support the academic programs at University of Memphis, the University Libraries will be moving to Kanopy’s Mediated Program for Spring 2021. Current University of Memphis students, faculty, and staff will continue to have unlimited access to films that are already licensed (until their expiration date). However, any unlicensed films must be requested via the online Kanopy form.

Requests from faculty for use in teaching are first priority. Requests are received by library staff, who determine if the title is available in any existing collection.  If a title is not already available, we will forward a request to Kanopy to license the film. This process takes 3-5 business days, so we recommend that faculty plan ahead to ensure that the titles they want are available when needed. In summary, Kanopy is not going away, but it is no longer an on-demand service so that we can better control our streaming video costs.

Kanopy's Mediated Model

The mediated option, which goes into effect on 12/1/2020, will display a request form for any films in the collection that we do not already license. Faculty are asked to complete this form. In the message field, specify the use, including what course you will be using it for, whether it is for an in-class screening or for individual viewing outside of class, and a need by date. Once received, we may email you for additional information before the library licenses the film. 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.

About Licenses

Although Kanopy is different from Netflix, Hulu, 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 licensing 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. If you have a film that you anticipate using over several semesters, let us know so that we can consider a multi-year license, which will save us money. Our licenses with Kanopy permit individual viewing from on or off-campus, course-related screenings, and even campus screenings to students, faculty, and staff.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do I do if I want to assign a film for next semester?

Submit your request. The earlier the better so that we can budget for it. We will try to accommodate your requests as best as we can. We recommend submitting requests at least 3-5 days in advance of when it's needed, to allow us time to process the request.

What can I request from Kanopy?

The University Libraries will only lease films for course use. We will not lease films for recreational or general viewing. Our limited budget only allows us to support academic use of streaming video. You are welcome to view any already licensed content but requests for personal use will not be approved. 

How do I request a license for a new Kanopy film before December 1?

Download the file "Kanopy film licenses" below and check whether the film you are interested has an active license, and when that license is due to expire. If you need to request a new license, or a renewal license, contact and include the following information to the extent possible:

  • Course name and number for which you will use the film 
  • Date needed

How do I request a license for a new Kanopy film after December 1?

If you click on a film title in Kanopy and see the Kanopy request form, it means we don’t currently have access. Complete this form and it will be sent to a University of Memphis librarian for processing.   Please make your request at least 3 -5 working days before you need the film and include the following information to the extent possible:

  • Course name and number for which you will use the film 
  • Date needed

What happens after I make the request? How long will it take to get the film? 

The request is forwarded to Electronic Resources Management team, who will determine if the title is available in any other collection before approving in Kanopy. It takes at least 1-2 working days for the order to be processed in the Library and another day for it to be made available by Kanopy. Thus, we recommend submitting requests at least 3-5 days in advance of your need so we can make sure that you have access in time. Requests made over the weekend or after hours will be processed the next working day. Once the film is available, a librarian will email you a link to your film. 

More questions?

Please contact the Electronic Resources Department (, Electronic Resources Librarian, if you have any questions or problems using the site.


NOTE: Kanopy overview and FAQ text adapted with permission from Kutztown University.

Kanopy Request Form

Beginning December 1, 2020, you will see this form appear for any films that the library is not currently licensing. In the message field, please include the course name and number for which you will use the film OR if you need the film for academic research purposes.