Apologies for cross-posting.

UW-Madison is currently negotiating a license with Swank, and we seemed to have reached an impasse regarding language that they insist is essential and that we have profound misgivings about. They are insisting on language stating that they can question our being able to subscribe to any of their streaming video titles and can require us to prove that the use of any title is exclusively “educational.” Our attempts to date to have them remove this language have not been successful; nor can we get them to explain exactly what the criteria are that would prompt such action on their part or what the process would be. Here is part of the problematic language plucked from the license agreement:


“New release Titles along with content not typically aligned with the intended Purpose, may require additional information upon request. Swank reserves the right to decline the use of certain Titles if it is determined the intended use does not align with the Purpose.


We responded by asking what additional information might be required and expressed that we’re unclear what this scenario entails. Swank responded with the following:


“This provision outlines that for new release films (released in last 12 months) and others that aren’t typically used for educational purposes (e.g. Wedding Crashers) may require additional detail related to the course and intended academic use of the film to ensure alignment with the Purpose and therefor our rights.”


A later comment:


To your point, any film can be used for education which is exactly why we maintain this process. It helps to ensure that we are able to continue offering every single title that we have rights to as opposed to only those with a direct educational connection. With all due respect to the other streaming platforms you mention, none of them have the library of films that we do with not only educational value but also the largest commercial and box office value of any library available. It is for this reason that we must retain the ability to confirm the intended educational use of the film and while you may have every intention of using the platform as reserves for your instructors, we often times encounter schools wanting to use our streaming film library for reasons other than that, in violation of our agreement and rights. This process is a must have for us.”


Our plan to begin our Swank subscription was with 50 titles that were chosen by a group of subject librarians who work directly with faculty and who selected these 50 titles, many of which are new release films from commercial studios, specifically to support teaching and learning. We trust their judgment and feel strongly that Swank needs to allow its academic customers to make content choices that support their mission, as all other streaming video vendors do. We feel that what they’re asking us to commit to with this language is unacceptable for an academic institution.  


We would greatly appreciate if others who have successfully negotiated with Swank could share your strategies. You can contact me off list, if that is preferable.


Thank you!


Treasa Bane (she/her/hers)

Electronic Resources Management Librarian

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Memorial Library

728 State Street

Madison, WI 53706