Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Screening Movies on Campus Policy

Classroom

Classroom situations may fall under the Face-To-Face Teaching Exception under Fair Use Guidelines if certain principles are met:

A face-to-face teaching exception is met through the following:

  • The instructor/TA should be present for the screening.
  • The film is only shown to those students enrolled in the class.
  • The relationship between the film or video and the course is explicit.
  • The film is not being shown for recreational or entertainment.

The screening must have a lawfully made (not pirated or illegally copied) copy of the video.  The screening should not be publicized or announced for an audience outside the students in the class. 

Group Screenings

Several principles should be considered in determining whether or not a film can be shown on campus (outside the classroom) without a public performance license.  First, only screenings that are considered ‘public’ require a public performance license.  Second, a “non-commercial” or not-for-profit screening may still require a public performance license regardless that a fee is not being charged.

To determine if your screening is ‘Public’ consider the following definitions:

  • performance at a place open to the public
  • performance at a place where a substantial number of people who are not family members or friends is gathered.  ‘Friend’ is somewhat loosely defined as ‘having a social relationship’ with another person. 

Note that even if only a few people attend a screening, it is still considered ‘public’ if it is literally open to the public.

If your screening does meet the ‘Public’ criteria, you must acquire a public performance license for the film.  These licenses can cost anywhere upwards of $300 for an individual film. 

Exceptions

  • Films that are in the public domain can be shown publically. 
  • The film’s producer (or other copyright holder) has given you written permission to screen the film.
  • The F&M Library has already obtained a Public Performance Right License for the film. (Films with purchased public performance rights will have a general note on its catalog record stating, “Includes Public Performance Rights.”)

FAQ

Can films be shown on campus or educational purposes?

YES.  As long as your situation falls in one of the following four catagories.

  1. The video was sold with public performance rights. (Check the F&M catalog).
  2. You have already bought public performance rights from a distributor.
  3. A face-to-face teaching exception is met through the following:
    • The instructor/TA should be present for the screening.
    • The film is only shown to those students enrolled in the class.
    • The relationship between the film or video and the course is explicit.
    • The film is not being shown for recreational or entertainment.

5.     If the screening meets the guidelines for Fair Use using the following criteria:

  • Purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is commercial or non-commercial nature – commercial purposes will weight against fair use;
  • Nature of the work, whether it is creative or informational – the more creative the work, the less likely this factor will weigh in favor of fair use;
  • Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the work as a whole – the more significant amount of work, the less likely this factor will weigh in favor of fair use; and
  • Effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the work.

Can films from Netflix, Blockbuster, etc be show in a meeting room or classroom space on campus?

NO.  Films that are rented or purchased from a vendor are done so with ‘Home-Use Only’ rights.  This means that they can only be shown in a home environment (unless being used for face-to-face teaching). 

Can I use a film from the F&M collection for a public screening?

YES and NO.  Most films in the collection are sold with a ‘Home-Use Only’ license and may NOT be screened publically on campus.  If a film was sold with public performance rights, the catalog record will reflect its status.  These films CAN be screened publically.

Where can I acquire a Public Performance License for a film?

The following are the most popular distributors that may hold the rights to the film you wish to show.

What if no fee is charged for attendance?

Regardless of whether or not a fee is being charged for attendance, the public performance rights for the film must be secured.

What if there is an educational discussion afterwards?

Regardless of whether or not there is an educational discussion afterwards, the screening is considered ‘public’ if it is open to all and must have public performance rights secured.

Can my club show a movie?

YES and NO.  It is permissible for a club to show a movie for its MEMBERS ONLY.  The screening should not be advertised and no fee should be charged for attendance.  This is not considered a public screening because it is a group of ‘friends’ or ‘persons with a social relationship.’  It is NOT permissible for a club to advertise or announce a screening and invited the public (regardless of whether or not a fee is charged for attendance).


Last Update: 9 May 2013