Performance Rights Advisory
Public Performance of movies and other media
Have you wanted to show a movie to a bunch of your friends on campus? Have you thought about turning the activity into a film festival or viewing club? If you are showing a film to your class, do you also want to invite others who are not in the class?
I want to be sure you are aware of the copyright restrictions on public performance of videos and movies that such an activity might entail. We have reminded you from time to time of the risks you run by illegally sharing copyrighted music, videos, books and other materials. The copyright law not only grants copyright owners the authority to determine when copies can be made, it also grants them the right to determine how and when works can be performed in public. The materials we have in the Library and materials that you borrow from other libraries or video stores usually are licensed for home use, and do not come with permissions for public performance, which you are expected to obtain from the copyright owners. The “fair use” provisions of the copyright law provide broad permission to use copyrighted materials in classroom settings, but these provisions are typically not interpreted to include performances where others are invited to a viewing.
- If you are showing a film or video on campus (except when showing it to the students enrolled in your class) you are expected to obtain performance rights for the work. Student Activities regularly gets performance rights for Film Board offerings, for example. If you are showing movies to a public audience without permission, whether or not you charge a fee, you may be violating the copyright owner’s rights with respect to public performance.
- When it can, the Library obtains performance rights for films in its collections, and notes this in the online catalog record. In most cases this kind of perpetual license is not available, so performance rights must be obtained for each viewing.
- If you show a film in public without permission, your activity may not be anonymous. Copyright owners or their agents may receive or review the notices you send out regarding your activities.
- The potential risks are very large. Though most of the recent publicity regarding efforts to enforce copyright compliance has focused on illegal file sharing, there is increasing attention to how movies are used. You may receive a notice from the copyright owner along with an invoice for performance fees (which could be $500 to $1,500 or more), or you could be sued for copyright infringement.
- Under certain provisions of the copyright law, libraries are prohibited from loaning materials if the library understands that the materials may be used without permission. The Library may not lend you movies or other content you intend to use if you do not have permission for public performance.
- You are personally and individually responsible for your compliance with copyright law. The College cannot take responsibility for your behavior, defend you against a claim by a copyright owner, nor pay any fines or penalties that may result. If College officials receive a complaint about your activity we are required to take action.
The complete copyright policy of the College on the Web at: http://www.bates.edu/ils/policies/access-use/copyright/.
The site includes links to the law and to additional information related to fair use. You may not be happy to learn all of this, but I will gladly answer any questions you have. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the phone at 207.786.6260.
Vice President for Information and Library Services and Librarian