Are you planning an event where you will be showing a movie or film? You may need a Public Performance License.
Copyright owners have exclusive rights over the display and performance of their works. For films this is often referred to as Public Performance Rights (PPR). A copyright owner can grant temporary permission or a license to others who wish to show a film in a way not already allowed by copyright law. These licenses are called Public Performance Licenses (PPL).
When do you need to obtain a Public Performance License?
You will need to obtain a public performance license if you plan to show a copyright protected film publicly at an event, gathering, or festival either, whether or not you are charging a fee for entry.
If you are showing only small portions of a film included in a larger project, you may be able to make a fair use argument. You do not need to obtain a public performance license if using a film within the guidelines of fair use or any other exception in copyright law.
Licenses sold separately
Most DVDs, VHS, and streaming movies, whether in the Libraries’ catalog or for private purchase, do not come with public performance rights.
Use of streaming media subscription services, like Netflix, is governed by terms and conditions that may not allow for use in public events regardless of whether you have obtained a public performance license.
Libraries materials with limited public performance rights
A small amount of the USF Libraries’ physical media collection include limited licenses for public performance for free on campus events. DVDs and VHS created/produced by Bullfrog Films and held in the Tampa campus library may be shown at events on campus as long as no money is being collected.
A few Libraries’ database/vendor agreements include limited licenses for public performance for free on campus events. Streaming titles from Kanopy, Docuseek, and Films Media Group may be shown at events on campus as long as no money is being collected.
If the film you select is not created by the producers or hosted by the platforms specifically mentioned above or if the public event includes collecting money, a Public Performance License should be obtained from the authorized licensor or copyright owner for any public performance other than reasonable classroom and educational uses.
The Libraries Media LibGuide has a list of streaming titles with their platforms. Check the list to find those on Kanopy, Docuseek, Films Media Group, and Academic Video Online (excluding Film Platform titles) that can be shown at free campus events.
Obtaining your public performance license
Contact a distributor or licensing organization that handles the film you would like to license. Some companies that provide licenses for many different companies:
The Internet Archive’s collection of moving pictures includes advertising, educational, industrial, amateur, and governmental films from the late 1800s onward. Some films may be protected by copyright, so it is best to confirm a film is in the public domain before using it.