PLU Clubs and Orgs Movie Screening Policy:
The university has final discretion in decisions regarding the distribution of literature, the sponsorship of visiting speakers and public performances, and the screening of films that utilize university facilities or resources. In keeping with the intellectual imperative of the university and the instructive value of dialogue, educational or artistic merit and inclusion of multiple perspectives will be the normative bases for decisions. The use of the university as a forum, however, in no way implies university approval or endorsement of the views expressed by material distributed, by a speaker, in a public performance, in a film, or through other communication mediums. In light of the availability of feature-length films on DVD and streaming websites and the proliferation of DVD players and laptop,student groups are advised to be aware that federal copyright laws restrict the use of films (including digital versions such as DVD, Blu-Ray, or streaming media) to private showings and prohibit their public performance without prior written consent of the holder of the copyright. All films require the company name through which the film is being obtained. DVDs that qualify for public showings are covered by the above policy for speakers, films, concerts and other public performances.
FBI Warning for Public Showing
The FBI Warning at the beginning of a video says, “Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures.” This text appears on movies released for home use and is based in copyright law. In essence, the FBI warning is saying that you can’t show the video outside your home. Nearly all of the movies you borrow from the Library, rent or buy are intended for home use and cannot be shown in a public setting. Many student groups think, “Our event’s free, so we should be able to just show the video.” The issue is not whether you charge admission, but whether you show the video in a public setting. The definition of a public showing of a movie, according to copyright law, is to “display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” Advertising your event or holding it in an open space like the Ingram or the Cave would constitute a public showing.
Obtain Permission to Show a Movie
It is fairly simple to obtain permission to show a popular, mainstream movie, but make sure you do it early in your planning process. It takes times and, in most cases, money. The price for showing a movie can be up to $100 or more, depending on the size of the group and the movie popularity. For rare or international films, the process can be complicated because the copyright holder may not be immediately apparent. Contact the movie distributor and obtain permission to show the film. Many titles are available from the sources like SWAN Motion Pictures Inc., Copyright Clearance Center, Criterion Pictures USA, Kino International, and New Yorker Films. When you contact the distributor, be prepared to provide the following information: name and contact of your organization, where and to whom you will show the film, how your organization will pay for the rights to show the movie, whether or not you need a copy of the film. If your club cannot cover the cost to obtain permission to show a film, consider going to the ASPLU Appropriations Board and apply for funds.
Films with Public Performance Rights
PLU Library owns a small number of films that were purchased with Public Performance Rights, which can be shown to the public as long as you do not charge admission. Often those films are documentaries purchased from independent distributors and have not had a major release in movie theaters. Although many of these films are excellent, you may have never heard of them.