BAFTSS Statement on Streaming Films Online for Teaching during COVID-19

The following statement has been produced by BAFTSS and posted online on the BAFTSS website on 4 August 2020, as advice for individuals involved in higher education teaching that is reliant on copyrighted film/TV sources. We would recommend that individuals also refer to the advice given by their institutions, and invite them to use the guidance referred to here as a point of reference for discussion within their institution.

For those working at UK HEIs and teaching Film, Television and Screen Studies, the regular screening of complete audiovisual works (including, for example, copyrighted feature films, television programmes and adverts) is integral to our pedagogic practice.

The ability to screen specific feature films to our students is essential for us to be able to adequately teach entire areas of our discipline such as film aesthetics, history, genre and theory. This is a fundamental part of our teaching provision and it is vital that we are able to select the most appropriate films to meet our pedagogical goals.


Prior to Covid-19, we have relied on section 34 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) to play films to our students within our teaching rooms. Unfortunately, we cannot be confident that section 34 would also apply to streaming online and the associated acts of copying to enable this to occur. This poses a significant challenge if we wish to continue screening entire films to our students during Covid-19. There is a risk that this could significantly impair our teaching given that we would have to rely on only screening films that are available through streaming platforms to which our HEI subscribes such as Box of Broadcasts or Kanopy. This could seriously diminish the diversity of topics on our degree programmes.


To address this issue, Dr. Emily Hudson (Reader in Law, King’s College London) has produced ‘Copyright Guidance for Using Films in Online Teaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic’. This Guidance identifies a number of other exceptions in the CDPA on which HEI’s may be able to rely. In particular, we wish to draw attention to paragraph 4.5 which provides detailed guidance on showing or making available entire feature films online with reference to the exception section 32 ‘Illustration for Instruction’.  


Whilst the Guidance here is focused on the streaming of feature films, these principles would also apply to other copyrighted audiovisual works, such as television programmes.


Link to Copyright Guidance for Using Films in Online Teaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic on SSRN

Enquiries on this can be sent to Johnny Walker ( and James Leggott (