Frequently Asked Questions.
What We Do
Questions About Licensing
- If I borrow movies from a public library can I use them legally for entertainment in a school?
- I thought schools were exempt from needing a license to legally use copyrighted movies. Is this true?
- What if a vendor says it is okay to publicly exhibit rented or purchased entertainment movies?
- I've heard of a similar type of license called a “blanket license”. Is this the same thing as an Annual Public Performance Site License?
- Which Hollywood studios does Movie Licensing USA represent?
- Why are some movies available under the Annual Site License, but others require a Single Event License?
- How can I confirm that a movie I'd like to show is covered under the Annual Public Performance Site License?
- What if an outside organization such as an after-school program or summer camp wants to show an entertainment movie in our facility?
- We are buying entertainment movies from a catalog that says their movies are licensed to show in a school, public library, etc. Is this accurate?
- Where can I find more information about copyright laws?
- Where can I acquire movies after we receive our license?
- Are there limitations to an Annual Public Performance Site License?
- Are there advertising guidelines?
- How will the renewal of my license be handled?
- What are the Single Event Public Performance License copyright restrictions?
- What if I have an unforeseen circumstance after ordering a Single Event Public Performance License?
- Can I use the Annual Public Performance License to fundraise?
- Who do I make my check out to?
What We Do
What does Movie Licensing USA do?
Movie Licensing USA provides movie licensing to K-12 schools and public libraries. We work with everyone from the best studios in Hollywood to the most innovative indie film companies to help individuals turn everyday events into extraordinary experiences.
Why do I need Movie Licensing USA’s services?
According to the Federal Copyright Act, copyrighted materials like movies can only be used for a public performance if they’re properly licensed. However, neither the rental nor purchase of a movie carries the right to exhibit it outside of someone’s home. So how can you get your site licensed to show your movie? That’s where we come in.
What exactly is a public performance?
A public performance is an exhibition of a movie that is shown outside of someone’s home. Fees collected for public performance site licensing compensate the copyright owners and the men and women who work on a film from start to finish.
Who appointed Movie Licensing USA to issue Public Performance Site Licensing?
Major and minor film studios trust Movie Licensing USA as their liaison and agent to provide public performance site licensing for their library of movies.
We have been using movies for non-teaching activities for years. Why haven't we heard of this before?
Unauthorized use of someone else's copyrighted materials in the U.S. has been a copyright law violation since 1970. Movie studios have had a compliance royalty procedure for use of their films in place for many years.
Currently, most of the major studios have made copyright compliance simpler and less expensive for schools by appointing Movie Licensing USA as their sole agent to assist in licensing their copyrighted movies.
Questions About Licensing
If I borrow movies from a public library can I use them legally for entertainment in a school?
The school itself must be licensed to legally show these movies. A public library cannot pass on copyright compliance to anyone, and only Movie Licensing USA or the studio that produced the movie can grant copyright compliance.
I thought schools were exempt from needing a license to legally use copyrighted movies. Is this true?
Under both the "Educational Exemption" and “Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption,” copyrighted entertainment movies may be shown in a school without copyright permission only if all criteria are met:
- A teacher or instructor is present.
- The showing takes place in a classroom setting with only the enrolled students attending.
- The movie is used as an essential part of the core, required curriculum being taught. (The instructor should be able to show how the use of the motion picture contributes to the overall required course study and syllabus.)
- The movie being used is a legitimate copy, not taped from a legitimate copy or taped from TV.
For specific requirements, please reference The Copyright Act of 1976, Public Law No. 94-553, 90 stat 2541: Title 17; Section 110(i), or consult your copyright attorney.
What if a vendor says it is okay to publicly exhibit rented or purchased movies?
Stores cannot provide legal permission for use outside the home. These movies, like the movies you own, are for "home use only" and must be licensed for public performance.
I’ve heard of a similar type of license called a “blanket license.” Is this the same thing as an Annual Public Performance Site License?
They’re the same thing. Sometimes referred to as a "blanket license,” our Annual Public Performance Site License gives your school the right to show copyrighted movies legally for an entire year.
Which Hollywood studios does Movie Licensing USA represent?
These studios are covered under the annual license for K-12 schools: Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, NBC/Universal Pictures, New Line Cinema, Lionsgate Films, MGM, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Summit Entertainment, Focus Features, Miramax, Warner Independent Pictures, Fine Line Features, United Artists, Searchlight Pictures, 20th Century Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Paramount Vantage and Screen Gems. To confirm whether or not a title is covered under this license, please search for the title on this website or call us at 1-877-321-1300.
Movie Licensing USA also works with these studios on a title by title basis: A24, Magnolia Pictures, Cohen Media, IFC Films, Cinedigm, Good Deed Entertainment, Filmrise, The Orchard, Lantern Entertainment, TSI/Amazon, Bleecker Street, STX Entertainment, Monterey Media, Relativity, Samuel Goldwyn and many others. For more information on obtaining single event licensing call 1-877-321-1300.
Why are some movies available under the Annual Site License, but others require a Single Event License?
The simple answer is that it depends on which studio owns the non-theatrical rights for the particular movie you want to show. Studios covered by the Annual Site License allow any of their titles to be shown as part of the Annual Site License’s coverage. Other studios request their titles only be available as Single Event Licenses. If a title is not owned by the studios covered by the Annual Site License, it must be licensed on an individual basis before it can be shown to remain compliant with U.S. copyright laws.
How can I confirm that a movie I'd like to show is covered under my Annual Public Performance Site License?
You can check to see if the movie you want to show is covered with our movie search tool. If the film appears with “single event license” listed underneath it, it is not covered by the annual license and an additional Single Event Public Performance License needs to be acquired. If this is the case, please contact us for more information. However, if the film title appears without this label, it is covered under the annual license.
What if an outside organization such as an after-school program or summer camp wants to show a movie in our facility?
This is legally permitted if the school itself has an Annual Public Performance Site License from Movie Licensing USA. Schools without such a license will be held liable if an outside organization shows movies in their facility.
We are buying movies from a catalog that says their movies are licensed to show in a school, public library, etc. Is this accurate?
No vendor selling entertainment movies has legal permission to grant you these rights. Videos with public performance rights are often documentaries produced by independent distributors and are separate from this license.
Where can I find more information on copyright laws?
For more information on copyright laws, feel free to read these sources:
- Copyright Law of the United States of America
Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays.
- Motion Picture Association (MPA)
The MPA is an anti-piracy organization that is dedicated to assisting local governments and law enforcement authorities in the investigation and prosecution of piracy cases.
- Copyright for Schools: A Practical Guide
By Carol Mann Simpson, 5th edition, (Linworth Publishing, c2010).
- Commonsense Copyright: A Guide For Educators & Librarians
by Rosemary Talab, 2nd edition. (McFarland & Co. Publishing, c1999).
- Kids In Mind
This site rates kids movies on a scale of 1-10 on categories of "sex & nudity," "violence & gore" and "profanity" and gives examples from the movie on each.
This site explains the rating system that movies are set up with. There is also a 25 page PDF file on this site that goes into vast description on each rating.
Where can I acquire movies after we receive our license?
You can use movies that are secured from any legal source (DVDs, digital copies or any other legal format).
Are there limitations to an Annual Public Performance Site License?
This license is for K-12 schools only. This license does not permit movies to be used when an admission fee is charged, other than to cover costs. In lieu of charging an admission, you may suggest "donations" and/or provide concessions.
Outdoor showings are covered under our Annual License agreement as long as the movie event is on school property and not open to the general public. In addition, the movies may not be altered, duplicated, digitized or transmitted electronically in any form without specific permission from the copyright owner.
Are there advertising guidelines?
You may use the promotion materials found on our website to advertise in your school or to pass our directly to students and staff. If you choose to advertise through the public media (such as public radio, television or a website), you may do so, as long as the movie title and studio name are not used. For example, "Join us at ABC Elementary for a Family Movie Night at 7:00 pm," is permitted.
How will the renewal of my license be handled?
Your Annual Public Performance Site License will automatically renew at the end of your initial agreement. One month prior to expiration, the renewal packet will be mailed. As long as payment is made promptly, your school will remain in compliance without interruption. You may, however, request cancellation any time after the initial terms of the agreement. Requests for cancellation can be made by calling 1-877-321-1300 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the Single Event Public Performance License copyright restrictions?
The Single Event Public Performance License is a limited license to exhibit only the agreed upon movie on the specified show date in your library. This license protects a showing of a title that is not covered by the annual license. The showing must take place inside the library building and does not cover any showing of the movie outside of the library building.
Please note that changing the movie title or show date after the license has been processed will result in a $25 service fee. Violation of this agreement is subject to the penalties set forth in the Federal Copyright Act. Please contact us for more information on obtaining a Single Event Public Performance License.
What if I have an unforeseen circumstance after ordering a Single Event Public Performance License?
If you are unable to hold your event due to inclement weather, electrical problems or other malfunctions, you may reschedule your selected movie title within one year of the original show date. Movie Licensing USA must be promptly informed by phone or email prior to the scheduled showing so your account can be noted. Please contact your Copyright Licensing Manager for complete details.
How can I raise money to help fund the license?
When fundraising at movie events, an unlimited amount of funds can be raised for the school. These funds can come from suggested donations, concessions, giveaways, and more. Some popular event ideas are Dinner and a Movie, Parents’ Night Out, or Book-to-Movie-themed showings. Check out our Customer Hub at: swank.com/k-12-schools/customer-hub for helpful planning and programming guides to create successful, engaging new events for your school community
Who do I make my check out to?
Please make checks payable to Movie Licensing USA.