It is a public performance if any of the following are true:
- the screening is open to the public
- the screening is in a public space- dorm lounge, library, auditorium, etc
- access is not restricted
- persons attending are outside the normal circle of a family and its acquaintances
examples of public performances:
- showing a foreign-language film to the community for cultural enrichment
- showing a film in your dorm.
- showing a film to your club or organization
- instructor showing a film in the classroom for curriculum-related purposes, but inviting persons outside the class to attend
- instructor showing a film to the class for curriculum-related purposes, but in a public or unrestricted-access location
examples of non-public performances:
- privately viewing the film in your dorm or apt. with a small group of friends
- instructor showing a film only to officially registered students in a classroom, where the content of the film is directly relates to the course.
Library-owned films rarely include public performance rights. Showing films (either rented, purchased or borrowed from the library) outside of the classroom may be illegal. Showing a copyrighted film (VHS, 16mm, DVD) outside the classroom without obtaining public performance rights is in all likelyhood illegal.
You can rent the film from a distributor. (The cost of this solution varies with the popularity of the movie.) http://www.videouniversity.com/distribs.htm
You get permission from one of the following:
The Motion Picture Licensing Corporation is an independent copyright licensing service exclusively authorized by major Hollywood motion picture studios and independent producers to grant Umbrella Licenses to nonprofit groups, businesses, and government organizations to ensure that the public performances of home videodiscs and videocassettes comply with the Federal Copyright Act.
Movie Licensing USA, a corporate division of Swank Motion Pictures, Inc., addresses the specific Movie Public Performance Site Licensing needs of schools and public libraries. Movie Licensing USA provides an exclusive license that satisfies the copyright protection needs of the movie producers, while offering a worry-free, liability-free movie license.
Swank Motion Pictures, Inc., is a major movie distributor and a public performance licensing agent in non-theatrical markets where feature entertainment movies are shown. Swank Motion Pictures, Inc., has exclusive distribution arrangements in many markets with most American movie producers for the motion pictures seen in theaters. Creating an account requires basic information (shipping and billing addresses, contact person, telephone number, fax number, and an e-mail address), and pricing varies by format, title, and venue. For more information, contact:Tiffany Ellis
Senior Account Executive
Swank Motion Pictures
FYI: A recently obtained license dated September 18, 2003, for a one-time showing of the films Ordinary People and A Beautiful Mind cost $331.00 per film for a total cost of $662.00.
Internet Archive has educational public domain films available for download. The films are stored in MPEG format and need to be downloaded to view rather than viewing as streaming video.
You may also need to investigate whether any rights need to be cleared that could be held by the actors, producers, writers, performers, guilds, or composers. Agent representation for living people can be found at the WhoRepresents website.
One may research film and video copyrights using the database at the Library of Congress. This database lists claimants and copyright ownership to works registered after 1978. To search for works registered before 1978, one must search in the Library of Congress online catalog, LOCIS, or in printed Copyright volumes.
"Copyright Law - Videorecordings and Public Performance Rights for Library Materials" Williams College Library. 22 August 2006 http://www.williams.edu/library/guides/videos_copyright.php
"Public Performance Rights - the Basics". Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Library. 2004 http://www.library.jhu.edu/researchhelp/film/ppr.html
"Getting Permission" University of Texas System 17 November 2004 http://www.utsystem.edu/OGC/Intellectualproperty/permissn.htm
"Showing Films at Harvard - Public Performance Rights" Harvard College 2003 http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~scdiroff/movies/index.html