Public performance license for film screenings 

Film & Movie Screenings

Groups who are interested in showing films or movies at meetings and events must comply with the Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the U.S. Code), which governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be used. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a home video copy of a movie carries with it the right to show the movie outside the home. This legal requirement applies regardless of whether an admission fee is charged, whether the institution or organization is commercial or non-profit, or whether a federal or state agency is involved. To show a video on campus, your organization must purchase a “public performance” license from one of the three companies listed below:

Criterion Pictures

(800) 890-9494

Swank Motion Pictures, Inc.

(800) 876-5577

Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC)

(800) 462-8855


Fees are determined by such factors as the number of times a particular movie will be shown, anticipated audience size, etc. While fees vary, they are generally inexpensive for smaller audiences. Fees may be waived if a request is granted from the company responsible for producing the film or movie. For more information on the law on “Public Performances,” visit (Motion Picture Association of America, 2010).


What is the face-to-face teaching exemption?

The U.S. copyright law contains an exception that allows the lawful use of home use only video recordings for public performance or display without the permission of the copyright owner. This is the so-called face-to-face teaching exemption allowing instructors to show video recordings in a classroom as long as the activity is a teaching activity and not recreation or entertainment. This exemption is covered in Section 110 (1) of the U.S. Copyright Law, which allows the classroom use of video programs that have not been cleared for public performance if, and only if, all of the conditions set forth by the law are met.