So you want to show a movie on campus?
Public viewing of movies is strictly regulated by the Motion Picture Association of America. DVDs and video tapes may not be used as an event or entertainment unless the public performance rights (copyright) have been purchased or secured. DVDs and video tapes that people purchase or rent are intended for home viewing use only. These movies are permitted to be viewed within the confines of a student's room to a private audience. However, no public announcement or advertising may occur as it turns the private audience into a public one (even if the viewing still occurs in a private residence room) thus making the movie subject to public performance guidelines.
With the exception of a faculty member showing a film to an officially registered class at the University (see face-to-face exemption below), all other public showings on campus are prohibited unless a public performance right is secured. This is true regardless of the number of people who attend and/or whether or not admission is free. These guidelines apply, but are not limited to, class rooms (while not in use for officially registered classes); lecture halls; residence hall lounges; cafeterias; library screening rooms; and/or meeting rooms in the MCC, CETES, and Shepler.
Purchasing public viewing rights does not depend on variables such as audience size or charging of admission. Regardless if it is 3 people versus 300 people, size is not considered in determining if public viewing rights need to be purchased. (Size may, however, influence the amount of the public performance fee). Likewise you still have to purchase the copyrights even if you are offering the movie/film to the audience for free. Because we are a non-profit educational institution we do qualify for the face-to-face teaching exemptions. However, that does not mean that because we are a non-profit educational institution that all films/movies shown at Cameron University are exempt. Only those with an instructor present with students enrolled in his/her class qualify for the face-to-face exemption. This principle holds true no matter how much educational or intellectual value is contained in the film.
Therefore anytime a group shows a movie in any context, the group must purchase the public viewing rights (copyright) for that particular showing. Copyright purchase for film currently runs between $300-$1,000 per showing for popular titles from major movie distributors. Independent films could cost less but must be negotiated with the holder of the copyright for those particular films.
Motion Picture Licensing Corporation
Swank Motion Pictures, Inc.
The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the U.S. Code) governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be used. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a copy of a copyrighted work carries with it the right to publicly exhibit the work. No additional license is required to privately view a movie or other copyrighted work with a few friends and family or in certain narrowly defined face-to-face teaching activities.
However, bars, restaurants, private clubs, prisons, lodges, factories, summer camps, public libraries, daycare facilities, parks and recreation departments, churches and non-classroom use at schools and universities are all examples of situations where a public performance license must be obtained. 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.