Video screening policies

United States copyright law limits public display of videos in University Libraries facilities to two scenarios -- Fair Use and Public Performance Rights.

Screening scenarios

In-classroom use

This scenario entails performing or displaying copyrighted works, including videos, for in-person classroom instruction. Section 110(1) of the copyright code provides that videos may be shown for educational purposes assuming the following conditions are met:

  • It's part of instruction for a face-to-face class
  • It takes place in a classroom or "similar place devoted to instruction"
  • For videos and other audiovisual works, the copy of the work was legally obtained (i.e. the copy wasn't pirated or bootlegged)

Public performance rights

This scenario is associated with public display of videos for which performance rights have been procured. Many videos in the Libraries' collection have public performance rights which allow the public display of videos in University Libraries facilities as long as no admission is charged. Also, university faculty, staff, and organizations may publicly display videos for which they have purchased public performance rights.

A public performance is generally defined as "a non-theatrical performance of a program, without charge, outside the home to a gathering of people other than family members and/or acquaintances. These gatherings are normally found in locations such as schools, libraries, and religious and civic institutions. Public performance rights also include closed-circuit transmission within a single building or on a single, geographically unified campus."

Obtaining a license

How can instructors obtain a license to show home-use DVDs/VHS tapes for public performance?

The University Libraries will not allow public performances of videos in its facilities without written verification that public performance rights have been procured. Some suggestions for procuring rights follow.

Contact the copyright holder directly, or the distributor if the distributor has the authority from the copyright owner to grant licenses, to purchase public performance rights or to request permission for a particular public performance use.

In the case of feature films, contact the licensing service representing the studio or title. Services vary in the types of licensing offered and the scope of materials represented.

Some questions to ask when contacting a licensing service

When licensing a program, it is necessary to understand how the licensing agency operates and what the specific conditions and limitations of the license agreement are. Some of the questions to ask might include:

  • Which motion picture studios and distributors are represented by the licensing company?
  • Which home video producers and distributors are represented by the licensing company?
  • Are all of the titles from the studio, producer, or distributor represented by the licensing company?
  • What titles, specifically, are excluded from representation?
  • Is the particular title wanted for public performance available for licensing?
  • Does the licensing company offer blanket or umbrella licenses, or does it offer licenses only for specific showings of specific titles, or does it offer both types of licensing?
  • What exactly does the license allow?
  • What does the license not allow?
  • Does the blanket or umbrella license extend to uses outside of the building?
  • Does the license restrict advertising of showings? What types of announcements and advertisements are allowed and not allowed?
  • If a license is wanted for a specific public performance, may one’s own copy of the video be used, or must a copy supplied by the licensing company be used?
  • Does the licensing company license film or video (be specific about format) or both?
  • How are licenses priced?
  • What is the price for the specific situation or need?

Example licensing services

Here are examples of the licensing services that can be used.

Criterion Pictures USA

Contact information

8238-40 Lehigh
Morton Grove, IL 60053-2615

Telephone: 1-800-890-9494
Telephone: 1-847-470-8164
Fax: 1-847-470-8194

Email Criterion

Kino International Corp.

Contact information

333 W. 39th Street, Ste. 503
New York, N.Y. 10018

Telephone: 1-800-562-3330
Telephone: 1-212-629-6880
Fax: 1-212-714-0871

Email Kino

Milestone Film & Video

Contact information

P.O. Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640-0128

Telephone: 1-800-603-1104
Telephone: 1-201-767-3117
Fax: 1-201-767-3035

Email Milestone

Motion Picture Licensing Corporation

Contact information

5455 Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90066-6970

Telephone: 1-800-462-8855
Telephone: 1-310-822-8855
Fax: 1-310-822-4440

Email MPLC

Movie Licensing USA

Contact information

A division of Swank Motion Pictures, Inc.

201 South Jefferson Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63103-2579

Telephone for Schools: 1-877-321-1300
Telephone for Libraries: 1-888-267-2658
Telephone for Organizations: 1-800-876-5577

Fax for Schools: 1-314-287-1748
Fax for Libraries: 1-877-876-9873

Email Movie Licensing USA

New Yorker Films

Contact information

16 West 61st Street
New York, NY 10023

Telephone: 1-877-247-6200
Telephone: 1-212-247-6110
Fax: 1-212-307-7855

Email New Yorker Films