Motion Pictures

Order Copies of Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings

The audiovisual holdings of the Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch have been acquired from many U.S.government and private sources. Some items date back to the early 20th century, and the collection is comprised of the full range of audio-visual formats which have existed over the past 120 years. 

The format, condition and source of the original audiovisual item can pose preservation, technical, financial, legal and scheduling considerations which impact the copying or obtaining reproductions of our holdings. 


In-person: Reference copies of many items from the holdings are made available (in a variety of formats) for screening and copying in our Motion Picture Research Room in College Park.

Online Catalog: There is also a growing number of digital files of moving image and audio recordings which are available for viewing and downloading in NARA’s Online Catalog.

Hire an Independent Researcher: If you are unable to visit in person, you may wish to hire a professional researcher to assist with identifying specific items that you are interested in.  See the list of experienced professionals 


Cost: Although NARA does not license footage, there is a transfer charge and an archival handling fee (per reel) if you wish to obtain higher resolution copies of our films using a NARA-approved reproduction process with contracted vendors.  Costs will vary according to the number of reels, the running time of the source material, the type of copy requested, and other factors, such as shipping. Some NARA vendors have basic pricing information on their websites, which can be used to determine approximate cost(s).

Order Time:  Many factors can impact the ordering times, mainly the format and condition of the original item(s), or any restrictions or permission needed for reproduction (link to Rights and Restrictions on Copying Materials). You should at a minimum allow 4-6 weeks to complete your reproduction order.

More information about this process can be found at Order Copies of Moving Image and Sound Holdings.

The majority of NARA’s holdings can be made available for reproduction without restriction. While many items in NARA's holdings are considered to be in the public domain or are unrestricted for commercial use in the United States, there are also many items which are protected or may contain material protected by copyright, intellectual property, other proprietary rights, donor restrictions, or may be restricted for use outside of the United States. NARA will not confirm copyright or public domain status for any items. Determining and securing permissions, rights and clearances is the responsibility of the user, and any subsequent use of any NARA material is at the user’s own risk. 

For more information, please see Rights and Permissions page.