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Policies: Exhibiting Copyrighted Films PDF of this article

Last modified on 02/15/2018 12:53 pm CST


Those wishing to exhibit a film in a space reserved through Event Services must produce documentation that a public performance license has been obtained. There are two options available for a legal screening of any copyrighted film or motion picture.

Obtain a Public Performance License for the Film to be Exhibited

A number of companies hold film rights and can issue a public performance license. The University Centers has contacts for these companies and will assist in obtaining a public performance license for a film presentation. Student organizations should contact the Activities, Involvement and Leadership office; Event Services will assist academic departments, administrative offices and external clients. The license must be in the possession of the organization, office or department prior to the exhibition date.

A fee will most likely be associated with any and all public performance film licensing. Anyone wishing to exhibit a motion picture in a venue scheduled by Event Services must produce documentation that a public performance license has been obtained.

Willful infringement is a Federal crime that carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in jail and/or a $250,000 fine. Even inadvertent infringement is subject to substantial civil damages. Not only is the event sponsor responsible, the venue itself is also held responsible. Colleges and universities are the most frequent violators and are closely monitored.

Meet the Criteria for an Educational Exemption

To be eligible for an educational exemption, there are six points to be met and every screening must meet all six points.

  1. A legal, legitimate (original) copy of the film must be shown.
  2. The screening must be part of the systematic course of instruction, related to that course’s current curriculum, and not for the cultural, entertainment or recreational value of anyone present.
  3. The film must be presented by the course instructor. The instructor must be present.
  4. The screening must take place in a place devoted to instruction — a classroom setting.
  5. The screening must be part of the teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution.
  6. Attendance must be limited to instructors, pupils and guest lecturers only. The educational exemption applies exclusively to academic buildings and classrooms. None of the rooms and spaces programed by the University Centers is considered “a place devoted to instruction,” and a public performance license is required for film screenings.

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