Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo streaming
FoundedDecember 25, 2008 (2008-12-25) in Scarborough, Western Australia
FounderOlivia Humphrey
Number of locations
2 (San Francisco, Irvine)
Area served

Kanopy is an on-demand streaming video platform for public and academic libraries that offers films, TV shows, educational videos and documentaries.[1] The service is free for users, but content owners and content creators are paid on a pay-per-view model by the institution.

The company was founded in Scarborough, Western Australia, on December 25, 2008, moving its headquarters to San Francisco, California, a few years later. On June 9, 2021, it was announced that OverDrive had reached a deal to acquire Kanopy. The acquisition was completed on July 15, 2021. Kanopy's subdivision, Kanopy Kids, includes children's programming; all Kanopy member accounts have access to Kanopy Kids.[2]


Kanopy was founded on December 25, 2008, at Scarborough, Western Australia, by Olivia Humphrey, an Australian entrepreneur, as an educational tool for colleges and universities.[3] Until 2010, the company functioned only as a DVD distributor, moving into streaming in that year. After attaining considerable success in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore, it expanded into the UK and US, and soon afterwards moved its headquarters to San Francisco, with Humphrey remaining as CEO.[4]

In October 2019, Kevin Sayar succeeded Humphrey as CEO.[5] On June 9, 2021, OverDrive announced that it had reached a deal to acquire Kanopy. The acquisition was later completed on July 15, 2021.[6]


Kanopy provides each participating public library,[7] college and university with a dedicated and customizable website through which members can stream films, TV shows, documentaries and educational videos. The service includes features such as captions, transcripts, clip creation, and playlist creation that allow users to create, edit and share videos.[8][9][10]

Business model

Public library patrons, college and university students and faculty are able to watch Kanopy free-of-charge with their institution's library card. Institutions pay for the films their students and faculty watch on a pay-per-view basis.[8] This model used by libraries is referred to as "patron-driven acquisition" where each view (watching a video for 30 seconds or more) will prompt the sale of a license fee for that title. Costs vary per institutional contract, but have been estimated in 2019 for single titles to be $150 for one year, $350 for a three-year license.[11]

Librarians have access to an administrative dashboard which allows them to view user analytics and adjust budgets.[8]

On July 1, 2019, three of the largest public libraries in the United States—the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Public Library—discontinued Kanopy, citing unpredictable and unsustainable costs.[12]

Device support

Kanopy can be viewed on a computer, mobile device, or television via a web browser supporting HTML5 video or the Kanopy app for Amazon Fire Tablet and Fire Stick, Android, Apple iOS, Chromecast and Roku.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "Kanopy Streaming Video". University of Oregon. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  2. ^ "Kanopy, the On-Demand Streaming Video Service Free for Public Library Members, Adds Children's Content with Launch of Kanopy Kids" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  3. ^ Smith, Sean. "Kanopy Concept Created in Garage". The West Australian. The West Australian. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  4. ^ Humphrey, Olivia (September 5, 2017). "A Conversation with Kanopy Founder and CEO Olivia Humphrey". International Documentary Association (Interview). Interviewed by White, Tom. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  5. ^ Hayes, Dade (October 16, 2019). "Kanopy Hands Streaming Platform's CEO Reins To E-Book Specialist Kevin Sayar". Deadline. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  6. ^ L Squared Capital Partners Announces Pending Sale of Kanopy to OverDrive
  7. ^ "Kanopy chief Olivia Humphrey backs R&D scheme". The Australian. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Flatley, Robert (April 2015). "Standard Review: Kanopy Streaming". The Charleston Advisor. doi:10.5260/chara.16.4.42. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  9. ^ Haigney, Sophie (August 7, 2017). "Now Showing at the Public Library: 30,000 Movies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  10. ^ Kenny, Glenn (September 1, 2017). "Library Cards Unlock Film Vaults". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  11. ^ Cagle, Chris (May 3, 2019). "Kanopy: Not Just Like Netflix, and Not Free". Film Quarterly. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  12. ^ New York Public Library, "Statement About Kanopy"
  13. ^ "How to stream movies for free using your Grand Rapids library card". MLive.com. Retrieved May 15, 2017.