Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Video Data Bank?

The Video Data Bank is a not-for-profit video art archive and distribution service. VDB represents video artists who create work in unlimited editions. VDB artists choose to make their artwork widely available, and are compensated with royalties when their work is licensed for various uses. VDB works closely with the artists in its Collection to provide video work on a variety of formats, and to set pricing that allows their work to be accessible to multiple audiences.

Also see About VDB.


Questions for Individuals:

Can I purchase viewing copies of VDB videos for home use?

The majority of VDB titles are designated for institutional use only and are not priced for home purchase.  However, there are a small selection of titles that have been made available by the artists for Home DVD

What restrictions come with home purchases?

Home purchases come with no public performance rights and cannot be exhibited publicly, including any commercial, theatrical, non-profit, or educational presentation. In additional they cannot be duplicated, transferred or uploaded.

How can I access titles that are not available for personal sale?

There are a number of options! If you are affiliated with an institution you can make a request that the library purchase the work for their collection. Many librarians are happy to receive patron suggestions. Many VDB titles are also available to public libraries and community centers for reduced prices. Individuals are encouraged to put together public screenings for which they can rent the titles. 

Can I view video works at the VDB?

Absolutely. Our screening room is open to the public from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, and free of charge. Please call or email to schedule an appointment, and we can prepare most titles in our collection for viewing.

Can I purchase VDB work for a private art collection?

Yes. Individuals can purchase Archival BetaSP, Digibeta, or Digital File copies of VDB titles for accession to private art collections. Archival purchase conveys full screening and exhibition rights to the work on the premises of the collection. Those choosing to make archival purchases are solidifying the ongoing preservation and future accessibility of seminal artworks within our collection.


Questions for Libraries & Educators:

What video formats are offered for Educational Purchase?

Libraries can purchase our titles for their collections on DVD. If faculty or students need a video for one-time classroom-use, it can be rented on BetaSP, MiniDV, and DVD. Blu-rays of high definition work are also available for rental and purchase.

The quoted cost seems high. What does this price reflect?

50% of every rental or purchase fee paid to the VDB goes directly to the artist in the form of a royalty. As a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to historical video art, VDB invests into ongoing storage and preservation projects, as well as a number of programs and collections. VDB's archival activities ensure that institutions receive the best quality copies available, and that a wide range of works will continue to be made available for research, education, and public screenings long into the future.

Why should our library invest in video art?

Having a budget for media purchases is akin to having a budget for library books. The works in the VDB Collections resonate not only with media and arts coursework, but with programs in American history, journalism, political science, performance, gender studies, anthropology and many other disciplines.

What rights and permissions come with an Educational Purchase?

An educational DVD purchase from the VDB comes with full public performance rights for the life of the disc. The DVD can be screened in classrooms, libraries, auditorium or other screening venues on the premises of the purchasing institutions.

What restrictions come with an Educational Purchase?

An educational purchase DVD can not be copied, uploaded, or placed on looped display within the institution. Public screening rights pertain only to the location of the purchasing institution and the DVD may not be loaned for off-site use.

What if my library owns Video Data Bank titles on an old video format?

All VDB purchases are for the standard life of the tape or disc. Copying or transferring the works is prohibited. If your library has a title that experiences high usage, it may be worth the investment to purchase the title on an archival format such as BetaSP or Digibeta. These stable formats have proven lasting, and purchase allows that the title may be legally transferred onto VHS or DVD screening copies for regular use.


Questions for Curators, Programmers & Exhibition Spaces:

What are the rental options available to me?

VDB titles can be rented on DVD for ongoing looped exhibition. The weekly rental fee reflects the continuous usage of the title over an extended period of time.  If you are considering a single screening or a screening series, VDB titles are available for rental on BetaSP, MiniDV or DVD. We can at time accomodate digital file requests for exhibition and screening.

Can I receive previews of VDB work?

Previews for titles in consideration for programming or purchase are available for rental at a fee of $10 per item. VDB can provide previews via our online streaming portal or DVD.  Previews come with no public performance rights of any kind and must be returned. Newer acquisitons are available on preview compilation DVDs for rental. 

I am planning a program that is non-profit, independent, and educational. Do rental fees still apply?

Yes. VDB is strongly dedicated to its mission of access and preservation of video art titles, and believes that that artists should be compensated for the use of their work. VDB's existence depends on the support of the video and arts community. 

Can I make an Educational Purchase of a title?

Yes. Exhibitional spaces and museums can purchase VDB titles on DVD for curator reference, library research, and classroom use. These educational purchases cannot be publicly screened or exhibited.

What does an Archival Purchase offer my institution?

An archival purchase of a VDB title conveys full screening and exhibition rights to the purchasing institution. The purchase comes on stable tape formats such as archival BetacamSP or Digibeta, and allows that the title may be legally transferred to digital screening copies for regular use. Any streaming or uploads on the Internet or via internal intranets is prohibited.

Does the VDB ever consider collaborations, sponsorship or partnerships?

Yes. While the VDB is limited in the discounts and support it can offer, we welcome the opportunity to build partnerships. If you feel that a particular event or project contributes to the VDB's mission, we are happy to review your proposal for possible collaboration.