Criterion films online at Humber


Kate Richards
A&E Reporter

What do babies, grizzly bears, and extra large fries have in common? All of them appear on Humber Library’s new service Criterion on Demand.

Babies, Grizzly Man and Super Size Me are only three of the 15 feature films available to Humber students and faculty currently. The library hopes to have at least 20 more titles by next September.

The service became available last month on the library’s online catalogue and allows students and faculty to stream and download feature films on or off campus.

Criterion Pictures has offered licensing and hard copy films to non-theatrical audiences and institutions for more than 25 years. But it didn’t offer a streaming option to post-secondary institutions until late 2013.

The delayed development of a streaming platform was a result of copyright laws that changed in November 2012. The federal government mandated that education be exempt from requiring public performance rights to show cinematic material in the classroom.

Criterion Pictures’ services needed a change to adapt to these new laws in order to keep business going, said Suzanne Hitchon, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Criterion Pictures.

The exemption from public performance licenses made it easier for post-secondary institutions to use cinematic material in the classroom, but it didn’t necessarily make it easier for students or faculty to access the material.

“Teachers can now show a legally manufactured DVD to the classroom but what they can’t do is put it on their internal internet and stream it for students,” Hitchon explained.

The rights to copy or reproduce the material are still retained by companies like Criterion Pictures.

Streaming allows teachers to assign film viewings as homework, which has multiple benefits for both student and professor.

“Now students don’t need to come (to the library) to watch films (for class), they can just watch it at home,” said Maria Soares, Humber’s media library technician. “It saves them a lot of time,” she said.

Soares has been spreading the word about Criterion on Demand to faculty. She said departments such as Health Sciences and Liberal Arts have  taken advantage of the service.

Laura Oyama, a professor in the early childhood education program, is using the documentary film Babies in her first-year child development course for a major assignment.

“Everybody wants to be able to access technology and resources from wherever they are. And that’s absolutely 100 per cent an advantage for (professors), too,” said Oyama about the convenience of being able to access Babies, the documentary about infants, online for her class.

Though the service is aimed for educational purposes, students can use it during a study break.