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Media Resources: Kanopy - Notes and Updates

Notes and Updates on Kanopy

Why the Change?

Kanopy has been a very popular online streaming service here at MTSU. For the past several years the library has offered Kanopy's catalog of high-quality documentaries and feature films to students and faculty via Kanopy’s PDA (Patron Driven Acquisitions) Program.  This program allowed our users to decide what films the library licensed for them.  Four views of a film triggered a one-year lease of the title.  This model has worked well for users.  However, with the increased usage, the library has experienced a significant increase in our PDA costs. Due to the rising cost of the PDA program, the library moved to a mediated model beginning June 1, 2020.

Under mediated access, you can still browse the entire Kanopy catalog, but will only have immediate access to films we have leased. When you want to view a film not leased by the library, you can fill out a form to request it.  The forms then come to the library for approval.  We will focus on obtaining access to films that are used for classes taught by faculty and graduate students and for their research.

Access typically takes about 24 hours or one working day.  Our new approach should help the library contain costs and budget more effectively across all our resources. The downside is, of course, you will lose the ability to view any film you want at any time. 

We wish to emphasize that Kanopy is not going away, but it is no longer an on-demand service.

Kanopy’s PDA Model

The previous model allowed Kanopy to make their entire catalog of films available for viewing, but the library would not pay for a film until it was viewed four times. Kanopy defined a view as a single viewing of a film for more than 20 seconds. On the fourth view, the film was “triggered” and a lease purchase was made. The leased film was licensed for unlimited campus-wide use for one year. This trigger happened behind the scenes and the viewer was unaware if a film was triggered.

Mediated Model

Kanopy title browsing will remain unchanged. However, when you select a film that has not been licensed, you’ll see a request form. 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, we may email you for additional information before the library leases the film.  Please note that all currently licensed films will still be available for immediate 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 (other examples include Swank and Films on Demand), we are leasing the content, not owning it. Licenses permit access for a defined period of time; with Kanopy, we primarily lease 1-year licenses but have the option to lease a 3-year license. Our licenses with Kanopy permit individual viewing from on or off-campus, course-related screenings, and even campus screenings to MTSU students, faculty, and staff.


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

Contact Library Acquisitions or your library liaison with the name of the film along with course information.


How do I request a license for a new Kanopy film?

If you click on a film title in Kanopy and see the Kanopy request form, we don’t currently have access. All you need to do is fill out the request form and it will be sent to a librarian to process.  In your request message, please include the following information.

The course name and number for which you will use the film OR if you need the film for academic research purposes

Whether you would like a 1 or a 3 year lease. Base this on your anticipated course offerings and use of the film. We understand plans change.

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

The request is forwarded to library acquisitions. We will check to see that we don’t already own or access the title in another streaming media collection. After that, we will make the lease purchase in Kanopy for faculty and graduates students.  Undergraduate requests will be forwarded to subject liaisons for consideration and access will be granted based on reason requested (such as needed for an undergraduate thesis) and as funds permit. It takes at least one working day for the order to be processed and the film to be available. If you make a request on the weekend or after hours, it will not be ordered until the next working day. Once the film is available, you will receive an email with a link to your film. It will also be added to the library's catalog. (

How do I find media options to use in my classes?

The best thing to do is to search the library's catalog. (  All of our various streaming media and DVD offerings are included, so you don’t have to search multiple websites.

More questions?

Please reach out to the library’s Acquisitions Dept. or subject liaisons.