Access to Mythbusters episodes for a college course
September 6, 2018 4:51 PM   Subscribe

My wife is teaching her dream class: a Freshman honors seminar on the scientific method, skepticism, and . . . Mythbusters! How can she get access to more episodes for educational use?

For at least ten years, my wife has been dreaming of a course based on the Mythbusters. Now she finally has the chance, and she has run into a roadblock: until just the last week or so, several full episodes of the show were available on the Science Channel website. Now, these episodes that she planned to use in her class have suddenly become unavailable except with a cable channel login. She can't assume that all of her students have access to such a login, and since they are watching the episodes as homework and discussing them in class, that presents a problem.

She did purchase some episodes as a backup and had them digitized by the college library for educational use only, but there are many other good episodes that she would like to use. I have looked on the Discovery Channel website for any kind of educational access or someone to contact, but this doesn't seem to be a normal request. Other than dubious websites with pirated copies, which she does not want to suggest her students use, is there another way to get access to these episodes for educational purposes, without purchasing hundreds of dollars of DVDs?
posted by dellsolace to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Has she talked about this with the library? At my U library, they're very keen on helping me get access to video-based materials.
posted by k8t at 4:54 PM on September 6, 2018 [6 favorites]

Sourcing and purchasing materials for teaching and research, and making material as accessible as possible to students while complying with copyright is your library's area of expertise.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:06 PM on September 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

It looks like the Discovery Channel's education website is focused on K-12 but they have a contact us link and maybe they could point your wife toward a resource?

Is there an asavage batsignal, I wonder?
posted by macfly at 5:09 PM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

The library has attempted to help but was not able to gain access to digital media without a cable password. They are able to digitize purchased DVDs but the episodes in question are from various seasons which would mean purchasing a lot of sets for just a few episodes.
posted by dellsolace at 5:23 PM on September 6, 2018

You can purchase the episodes individually to download from Amazon. Not sure if that would provide adequate permission to screen them in class.
posted by mai at 6:59 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

The library or faculty may have a budget for purchasing learning materials as well and I would suggest a small proposal written up to either share costs OR ask them to take on the costs to purchase, digitize, then put the DVD's into their collection for borrowing. If this course will be an ongoing one then the costs can be spread over 6 semesters or whatever.
posted by latch24 at 7:48 PM on September 6, 2018

If she’s on Twitter maybe @donttrythis (Adam Savage) would have some ideas.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:12 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I assume you've tried Our Adam Savage.
posted by msamye at 8:46 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Has she seen this reddit where every episode has a link for download?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:08 AM on September 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Obtaining videos for classroom use is actually part of my job. Where I work, we have a budget for acquiring DVDs and licensing streaming video content. Even though we're a big institution, the costs are substantial, so we ask the instructor to make a case to justify the purchase. If the cost is prohibitive or the content is not available for licensing for institutional/educational use, we will advise the instructor whether it is available on a commercial streaming platform such as Amazon Video or Netflix, and in that case, suggest that students pay to access those videos on their own time, at their own homes/dorms, as a homework assignment. Mythbusters is available on Amazon Video, so that's an option.

Amazon's terms of use are infamously unclear as to classroom use of their streaming content. Some institutions opt to go ahead and use it; others forbid it; the remainder, like us, wash our hands of it and tell the instructors they'll have to use their own best judgment. In our case, that also means the library does not purchase streaming access from Amazon video. Instructors are free to purchase it themselves, or try to talk their department into paying for it.
posted by Lunaloon at 10:13 AM on September 8, 2018

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