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: email@example.com or x2185
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.
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:
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).