Does your organization, class, or department want to show a movie or episode of a television show on campus? Below are guidelines to help you follow the proper procedures and avoid breaking copyright laws. There are several factors to consider in this process, such as
What are Public Performance Rights?
Public Performance Rights (PPR) are the legal rights to show a video recording. The video distributor or producer normally holds these rights. However, the rights-holder can give temporary PPR to others by selling them a Public Performance License (details under How to Obtain PPR below).
Do I Need to Obtain Public Performance Rights to Show my Film/TV Show Episode?
DVDs and videotapes that are available for purchase, rented from many commercial establishments, checked out from the Library or Union, or are video taped at home on VCRs are for home viewing purposes only. Unless you are showing a film/TV show in a classroom with a professor leading a discussion as a part of the regular curricula or watching a movie in your own residence hall room with a few friends, you must purchase the rights to show that film/TV show on campus.
Purchasing public viewing rights does not depend on variables such as audience size or admission prices. Regardless of whether you expect 3 people or 300 people, size is not considered in determining if public viewing rights need to be purchased. Likewise, you still have to purchase the copyrights even if you are offering the film/TV show to the audience for free.
Please look at the chart below to help you determine whether you need to purchase the rights to view a movie on campus.
Need to Purchase the Rights...
Don't Need to Purchase the Rights...
- if the screening is open to the public, such as showing a foreign-language film to the community for cultural enrichment
- if the screening is in a public space where access is not restricted, such as an instructor showing a film to a class for curriculum-related purposes in a public or unrestricted-access location
- if persons attending are outside the normal circle of family and acquaintances, such as showing a film to a club or organization, or showing a film for class but inviting others to attend
if privately viewing the film in your room with friends
if an instructor is showing the film to officially registered students in a classroom, where content of film directly relates to course and is shown in a space designated for instruction
Consequences of Not Purchasing Public Performance Rights
If you do not purchase the public performing rights to a film/TV show, you are violating copyright laws. Breaking these copyright laws (even if unintentionally) can result in fines from $750 to $30,000 per showing. If admission is charged to the event and the organization/person receives some commercial or personal financial gain, fines can range upward to $150,000 plus a year in jail.
How Do I Obtain Performance Rights for My Event?
Rather, a representative of the organization, department, or class should click here to fill out the Movie Request Form. After you have completed the form, email it to Michelle Navas or bring it to office 401E in the Union at least two weeks before your event date for domestic films and four weeks in advance for international films.
Who is the Distributor of the Film/Episode I Want to Show?
- Go to the Internet Movie Database.
- Search for your film by title.
When you've arrived at the film's webpage, click on company credits (on the left-hand side of the screen).
There, you will find the distributor(s) listed. Once, you have the original distributor ("original rights owner"), click here
to determine the current distributor of the film from our database.
Write the "who currently distributes the film" down on the Movie Request Form under "distributor" (most of the time you will write down SWANK or Criterion).
How Much Does It Cost to Show a Film or TV Episode?
Copyright purchase for film typically runs from $350-$700 per showing for popular titles from major movie distributors. Independent films could cost less, depending on the distributor of the film. As far as TV episodes, it usually costs around $100 per 30-minute episode. Also, some companies provide a DVD to show at the screening, while others do not.
Which TV Shows Can I Purchase the Rights to?
There are a very limited number of television series who's rights are easily obtained. Click here to see a list of TV shows readily available to screen. If you need to show another series, contact Michelle Navas to see if it is possible.
Films in the Public Domain
There are some films that are not owned and, therefore, are not subject to copyright laws. Therefore, you can screen these without purchasing PPR. Click here to see a list of films commonly known to be in the public domain.