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Images, Video & More in Research

What you Need to Know

When you want to show a film, video, or television program, whether it be as part of a course, at a group or club activity, at an organization event, or as a training exercise, you have to consider the rights of the those who own the copyright to the work you want to use. This consideration must be made regardless of who owns the video or where you obtained it. Copyright owners have certain rights, which are commonly known as public performance rights (PPR).

Event Checklist



  • Acquire Public Performance Rights
  • See if the library owns a copy of the film, or recommend a purchase (please allow a couple weeks if we don't own it already).
  • If neither of the above options work for you, you can rent, or purchase the film you wish to show
  • Book appropriate venue for the number of viewers you anticipate


  • Book the Media Center for set-up, technical support (highly advisable)
  • Promote the event to classes, departments, and the public
  • Schedule faculty or guest speaker(s)
  • Purchase refreshments

Support Contacts

Book the Venue

Find a Film

Library Catalog

Search for the film you wish to screen to see if the library owns a DVD or provides access as streaming video.

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Public Performance Rights FAQ

Q: I'm a professor and I want to show a film outside of the classroom. I'd like to invite the university community and the public. What do I need to do?

A: You will need to acquire public performance rights in order to legally screen the film. Even though this is for educational purposes, taking the film out of the classroom setting and inviting guests other than your students qualifies your film as a "public performance". (Fair use covers film use in face-to-face classroom and some distance learning settings.) 

Q: The film I want to show is on Netflix. Can I stream this through my Netflix account in the classroom?

A: Netflix allows one-time educational screenings of some Netflix Original documentaries. For more information, see Netflix's policy on Educational Screenings of Documentaries. Subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have very detailed membership agreements that may forbid the streaming of subscribed content in a classroom or other public venue. When you agree to the terms of membership, you enter into a contract and the terms of that contract trump any applicable exception in copyright. Therefore, if the membership agreement with Netflix prohibits the showing of the film in a classroom, you are bound by the terms of that agreement even if the face to face teaching exception would otherwise allow it. We encourage instructors who plan to show films as part of their class, particularly when the class is taught online, to investigate the availability of films through Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other subscription or short term rental streaming services and to require their students to access that content on their own through their own subscription or account.

Q: I'm a student and my club or organization wants to show a film. What do I need to do?

A: You will need to acquire public performance rights in order to legally screen the film. The showing of a film as part of a film series is viewed as entertainment even if hosted or sponsored by an educational group or club. No matter how educational the setting or how tied to the curriculum, this is generally considered not to be fair use and PPR must be obtained.

Q: What are public performance rights?

A: PPR are license agreements made with a film's rightsholder granting an individual or a group the legal right to publicly screen a film. Usually a PPR license is purchased for a fee, and it usually only covers a one-time screening of the film.

What do we mean by publicly? Any group of persons screening a film to any audience. Exemptions include home-use, face-to-face classroom teaching, and in some cases distance learning classes.

Q: How much do public performance rights usually cost?

A: Typically between 200-300 dollars for a one-time showing, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Q: How do I acquire public performance rights?

A: Generally speaking, PPR can be purchased through a film's distributor. There are several large movie distributors and public performance rights licensing agencies that own the rights to hundreds of well-known films.

A couple major movie licensing companies to try out first:

If you need assistance locating the rights holder for a film, feel free to contact Curtis Ferree: or x2185

Kanopy and PPR

Thinking about putting on a film screening? Check Kanopy for titles first. Our license agreement with Kanopy allows us to screen films to audiences on campus, whether as part of a class or not! That means: no additional PPR fees.

More about PPR

from Fairfield University's Copyright Resources:

Presentation to a Live Audience Outside Classroom Use

To legally show a video or DVD outside of the classroom (the class must be listed for the semester with the registrar) or Library (the video or DVD must be related to your course content unless the library owns the public performance rights), a Public Performance license must be purchased - regardless of whether an admission or other fee is charged. This includes movies to be shown:

  • at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts
  • to any audience other than an official class

This legal requirement applies equally to profit-making organizations and non-profit institutions (Senate Report No. 94-473, page 59; House Report No. 94-1476, page 62).

Showings of videos without a license, even innocent or inadvertent infringers, are subject to substantial civil damages ($750 to $30,000 for each illegal showing) and other penalties (Sections 502-505).