Public Performance Rights for Films

Showing a film or documentary in a library makes a popular program. This brief introduction will explain the basics of the copyright issues associated with showing films in a library.

What is a copyrighted video recording?
Copyright is a property right that gives the copyright owner of an original work certain rights, including the right to authorize or prohibit public performance or display of that work. More than likely, every videotape and DVD in your collection is copyrighted.
 
What is a public performance?
According to the U.S. copyright law (Title 17, United States Code, Section 110), a public performance is any screening of a videocassette, DVD, videodisc or film which occurs outside of the home, or at any place where people are gathered who are not family members, such as in a library. Even if no admission is charged or if the screening is in a nonprofit organization or library, you need this license.
  
How can I find out if a film has public performance rights?
How can my library obtain a public performance rights?
There are a few ways.
What are some questions to ask when contacting a licensing service?
Licensing agreements vary a lot between companies, and some companies also have multiple options, so it’s best to get all the facts upfront when selecting a company and agreement. Some questions you might want to ask: