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Film and Video Licensing

Film and Video Licensing Sites

What are public performance rights?

Showing a movie or performing a copyrighted musical work in a public setting (e.g., a club or organization) is typically against copyright law.  In order to comply with copyright law, make sure that the work is in the public domain or that you acquire the work with public performance rights. Just as you cannot rent a movie from the local video store and then screen it in a public space (because the rental is licensed only for home viewing), you cannot show movies or perform musical works in a public setting without first determining if you have permission to do so, even if you're not charging admission.

The only exception to this rule is the face-to-face teaching exemption in which an instructor shows the material in a classroom as part of a class or teaching activity and not for recreation or entertainment.

The basics for obtaining permission applicable to films, music, and other copyrighted materials is explained at the Stanford's Center for Copyright and Fair Use page.

A number of links have been provided on this page to both film and music distributors who either own the public performance rights of various works or can obtain the rights for a fee. Generally you will have to provide the distributor with the following information:

1.   Your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address;

2.   Your title, position, and your insititutional and departamental affiliations (e.g. Texas State University, Department of English);

3.   The date of the request;

4.   The title, author/creator/producer of the work, year published or created, etc;

5.   A detailed description of how the work is to be used (e.g. educational setting), by whom, and for how long, number of copies, medium, and format;

6.   Make document and obtain permission in writing.

The Society for Cinema & Media Studies has also put together unofficial fair use guidelines for their members that that may be useful to understanding various concepts and situations where copyright concerns may arise.


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