PPL – PUBLIC PERFORMANCE LICENSING Q&A
Thank you for your interest in purchasing video products from Global Net Productions. Unless otherwise noted, our videos are licensed ONLY to be used at home for private showings. For educational use and to show in public gatherings, profit and non-profit institutions please contact Global Net Productions for further information to obtain public performance license and special pricing for certain circumstances at:
(800) 862-6247 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Net Productions
What is a Public Performance?
Suppose you invite a few friends over to watch a movie or a TV show that’s no longer available on TV. You buy or rent a DVD or Blu-ray disc from the corner store or a digital video file from an online store and show the film or TV episode in your home that night. Have you violated copyright law by illegally “publicly performing” the movie or show? Of course not. But suppose you took the same movie or TV episode and showed it to groups at an event, business, community center, church, summer camp, school group etc. In that case, you have infringed the copyright in the video work. Simply put, movies or TV shows obtained through a brick-and-mortar or online store are licensed for your private use; they are not licensed for exhibition to the public.
Why is the Creative Community concerned about such performances?
The concept of “public performance” is central to copyright. If filmmakers, authors, playwrights, musicians and game designers do not retain ownership of their works, then there is little incentive for them to continue creating high-quality works in the future and there is little incentive for others to finance the creation of those works. The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the U.S. Code) governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be used. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a copy of a copyrighted work carries with it the right to publicly exhibit the work. No additional license is required to privately view a movie or other copyrighted work with a few friends and family or in certain narrowly defined face-to-face teaching activities. However, bars, restaurants, private clubs, prisons, lodges, factories, businesses, summer camps, public libraries, daycare facilities, parks and recreation departments, churches and non-classroom use at schools and universities are all examples of situations where a public performance license must be obtained. This legal requirement applies regardless of whether an admission fee is charged, whether the institution or organization is commercial or non-profit, or whether a federal or state agency is involved. Legal sanctions ”willful” infringement of these rules concerning public performances for commercial or financial gain is a federal crime carrying a maximum sentence of up to five years in jail and/or a $250,000 fine. Even inadvertent infringement is subject to substantial civil damages. It’s easy to obtain a Public Performance License . Obtaining a public performance license usually requires no more than a phone call. Fees are determined by such factors as the number of times a particular movie is going to be shown, how large the audience will be and so forth. While fees vary, they are generally inexpensive for smaller audiences. Most licensing fees are based on a particular performance or set of performances for specified films.
COPYRIGHT ACT EXPLANATION
Pre-recorded home videocassettes and DVDs (“videos”) that are available for rental or purchase include the right to exhibit the movie for home use only.
These motion pictures do not include a license for showing outside one’s home. If you wish to show movies for any other use or in any other place, you must have a SEPARATE license which specifically authorizes such use.
These simple and straightforward rules are detailed in the federal Copyright Act, as amended, Title 17 of the United States Code. According to The Copyright Act, only the copyright owner holds the exclusive right, among others, “to perform the copyrighted work publicly.” (Section 106) In summary, the Copyright Act mandates:
- The rental or purchase of a video does not bear the right “to perform the copyrighted work publicly.” (Section 202)
- Videos may be shown without a SEPARATE license in the home to “a normal circle of family and its social acquaintances” (Section 101) because such showings are not considered “public.”
- Videos may also be shown without a license in non-profit educational institutions (i.e.. public schools and universities) and in certain narrowly defined “face-to-face teaching activities” (Section 110.1) in which the movie is directly related to the curriculum and a teacher is present. The law makes a specific, limited exception for such showings. (Sections 106 and 110(1))
- All other public performances of videos are illegal unless they have been authorized by license. Even “performances in ‘semi-public’ places such as clubs, lodges, factories, summer camps and schools are ‘public performances’ subject to copyright control.” (Senate Reprt No. 94-473, page 60; House Report No. 94-1476, page 64).
- Both for-profit organizations and non-profit institutions must secure a license to show videos, regardless of whether an admission fee is charged. (Senate Report No. 94-473, page 59; House Report No. 94-1476, page 62)
- Proprietors of a social establishment are vicariously liable for infringement committed by an independent contractor. Vicarious liability arises where a party has “the right and ability to supervise the infringing activity and also has a direct financial interest in such activities”. Gershwin Publishing Corp. Vs. Columbia Artists Management, Inc., 443 F.2d1159, 1161 (2d Cir. 1971). Both the property owner and exhibitor must make sure a license is in place before a video is shown by either party.
- Non-compliance with The Copyright Act is considered infringement and carries steep and significant penalties. Such exhibitions are federal crimes and subject to a $150,000 penalty per exhibition (Section 506). In addition, even inadvertent infringers are subject to substantial civil damages ($750 to $30,000 for each illegal showing) and other penalties. (Sections 502-505)
For more Information:
Please do not hesitate to call us at (800) 862-6247 or send us an email to email@example.com with any questions about our public performance licensing and special arrangements that you might need.