May 17, 2022

Current Kanopy Business Model is “Unsustainable” For Harvard Library, Move to Mediated Access Announced

From the Harvard Library:

Effective August 21, 2019, Harvard Library has moved to a mediated access model for Kanopy, a wide-ranging documentary and independent film streaming service. The model going forward will allow new licensing requests only for course-related films and will continue to allow access to already-licensed films. Increasing costs of the service led to our decision to adopt this new model.

Knowing how popular this service is with our faculty and students, we did not make this decision lightly. Because of the service’s popularity, however, our annual expenditure for the platform has more than quadrupled in the past three years with continued increases expected going forward.

Kanopy’s business model is based on the number of views per title, and three views of any film results in a charge to the library of $135 for a one-year license. This model is, unfortunately, unsustainable for Harvard Library as the platform becomes more popular and annual costs become unpredictable.

The following changes have taken place under the new model:

  • New Kanopy film licensing requests will only be granted to faculty for required course material and for doctoral dissertations.
  • Faculty can make purchase requests here.
  • If you are using a film for a class and are concerned about a licensed film’s expiration date, please submit a request for assistance on the Harvard Library website.
  • If it is not necessary to stream a film, the library will purchase a DVD copy instead.

Read the Complete Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.