Public Performance Rights:
Showing a film to a group may require obtaining public performance rights. It is up to you to determine what you need to do to comply with the copyright law.
Do You Need to Obtain Public Performance Rights?
Ask Yourself: Are you showing the film to the general public?
Answer: If you intend to show the film to the general public, then yes, you do need to obtain public performance rights even if you are not charging for admission. Ask Yourself: Are you showing the film in a public space where access is not restricted?
Answer: If you intend to show the film in a public space where access is not restricted, then yes, you do need to obtain public performance rights. Ask Yourself: Are you showing the film to people outside your normal circle of family and friends, such as to a club or group?
Answer: If you intend to show the film to a club or group, then yes, you do need to obtain public performance rights. Ask Yourself: Are you privately watching the film in your home with friends or family?
Answer: If you intend to watch the film at home with family and friends, then no, you do not need public performance rights. Ask Yourself: Are you an instructor showing the film to officially registered students in a classroom where the content of the film directly relates to the course?
Answer: If you intend to show the film to students registered in your class and the film directly relates to your coursework, then no, you do not need public performance rights.
See note below:
*Section 110(1) of the Copyright Law, Title 17, U.S. Code
www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#110 provides an exemption for certain educational uses of video recordings. Specifically it allows for “performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction. For further information see Janis H. Bruwelheide, The Copyright Primer for Librarians and Educators (Chicago: American Library Association, Washington, D.C.: National Education Association, 1995), 50-63.
How Do I Obtain Public Performance Rights?
First, find out if the library purchased public performance rights to the film you want to show. CyberCat, the library’s online catalog will indicate if the library has purchased public performance rights, otherwise you can ask a reference librarian for assistance.
If the library does not have a copy with public performance rights, you will need to contact the copyright holder to obtain permission. Individuals and organizations are responsible for obtaining performance rights for library-owned films.
To find out who the copyright holder is, go to the United States Copyright Office and search the database of registered copyright holders. Keep records of your correspondence with the copyright holder.
For a better understanding of copyright, look at Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright (for students and teachers), Swank’s booklet: Film & Video Copyright Infringement and American University’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.
A few places to rent tapes or DVDs with public performance rights are:
Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. 1-800-876-5577
Kino International: 1-800-562-3330
New Yorker Films: 1-877-247-6200
Criterion Pictures USA: 1-800-890-9494
Modern Sound Pictures: 1-402-341-8476