But is it legal?

The buzz in the library world involves a guest blog post in Tame the Web: Using Netflix at an Academic Library.  The gist is, when a patron (student or faculty) requests a video the library doesn’t own, the library borrows the item through its Netflix account for the patron to use.

This violates the Netflix Terms of Service agreement; see the LibraryLawBlog post Using Netflix in a Library for an outline of the terms violated by the library’s practices.  However, as one can see from comments posted to the original article, Netflix’s failure to pursue legal remedies against violating libraries is taken by some to be tacit approval of the practice.

In a Chronicle of Higher Education article, though, Netflix VP Steve Swaney says the company “frowns upon” such use and expects libraries to follow the terms of the agreement. Comments from librarians who have consulted their legal departments indicate that they’ve been advised against using Netflix accounts; there are no “institutional accounts,” and the uses described would violate contractual agreements.


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