MOVIE LICENSING MADE EASY
A movie screening is a great way to increase attendance at your park, improve community relations, and boost publicity and the local economy.
But there are a few steps you must take before pressing “play” to ensure your showing isn’t going against copyright law.
Learn why copyright compliance is important, when a license is necessary and how you can secure one for your park below.
Frequently Asked Questions.
What We Do
- What does Swank do?
- Why do I need Swank’s services?
- Who appointed Swank to issue public performance licensing?
- How do I place an order?
- What exactly is a public performance?
- Why should I obey copyright law?
- Who does copyright law apply to?
- Do I need a license to show a movie for educational purposes? This activity is covered under the “Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption,” right?
- Do we need a license even if we don’t charge admission? What if someone owns the movie?
- Who’s responsible if a film is shown without a license?
- If I purchased a license to show a movie, can I show that movie whenever I want?
- A small group is having an informal gathering in our facility. Do we still need a license?
- How will I know if my movie order is confirmed?
- Can I use my own copy of the movie I want to show?
- If I opt to receive a copy of the movie from Swank, when will my movie arrive?
- How do I return the movie?
Terms and Conditions
- Can I charge admission?
- What if a third party says it is okay to publicly exhibit rented or purchased movies?
- How many days can I show the movie?
- What are the restrictions of the license for my movie?
- Are there any advertising restrictions?
What We Do
What does Swank do?
Swank provides movies and movie licensing to colleges, K-12 schools, public libraries and dozens of other entities that want to show films legally on their property. 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 Swank’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 one’s home. So how can you get your movie licensed to show it? That’s where we come in.
Who appointed Swank to issue public performance licensing?
Major and minor film studios trust Swank as their liaison and agent to provide public performance licensing for their library of movies.
How do I place an order?
Choose the titles you would like to show or let our experienced staff help you create your movie program. Once you've selected your date(s) and movie(s), please contact us toll-free at 1-800-876-5577 or fill out a Request a Quote Form and an Account Executive will be in touch with pricing information.
What exactly is a public performance?
A public performance is a movie that is shown outside of someone’s home. Fees collected for public performance licensing compensate the copyright owners and the men and women who work on a film from start to finish.
Many public performances do not qualify for an educational exemption. In fact, the "Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption" does not apply outside the nonprofit, in-person, classroom teaching environment.
Why should I obey copyright law?
Violating copyright law through unauthorized use of a movie:
- Prevents those who worked hard on a film from receiving their just compensation.
- Essentially steals motivation to create from authors, computer programmers, playwrights, musicians, inventors, movie producers and more.
A public performance licensing fee includes money paid to the entire cast and crew who worked on the film from start to finish. If these men and women do not receive this hard-earned revenue through sources like licensing fees, they may no longer invest their time, research and development costs to create new movies.
Who does copyright law apply to?
This law applies to everyone, regardless of:
- Whether admission is charged.
- Whether the institution is commercial or nonprofit.
- Whether a federal, state or local agency is involved.
- What year the movie was produced.
This means colleges, universities, public schools, public libraries, day care facilities, parks, recreation departments, summer camps, churches, private clubs, prisons, lodges, businesses and more all must properly license movies to show them publicly.
Do I need a license to show a movie for educational purposes? This activity is covered under the “Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption,” right?
It depends. Under the "Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption," copyrighted movies may be shown without copyright permission only if all criteria are met:
- A teacher or instructor is present, engaged in face-to-face teaching activities.
- The institution must be an accredited, nonprofit educational institution.
- 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.
This means the "Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption" does not apply outside the nonprofit, in-person, classroom teaching environment. It doesn't apply to movies shown online – even if they’re part of course-related activities and websites. It also doesn't apply to interactions that are not in-person - even simultaneous distance learning interactions. It doesn't apply at for-profit educational institutions either. 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.
Do we need a license even if we don’t charge admission? What if someone owns the movie?
Yes. A license is required for all public performances regardless of whether admission is charged. The rental, purchase, lending or download of a movie does not provide the right to exhibit it publicly outside the home unless the screening is properly licensed.
Who’s responsible if a film is shown without a license?
The management of the venue or premises where the movie is shown bears the ultimate responsibility and consequences of copyright infringement. However, anyone involved with the public performance of copyrighted material could be implicated.
If I purchased a license to show a movie, can I show that movie whenever I want?
Unfortunately, no. Licenses are valid for a specific, designated time frame. There are no annual licenses available to colleges and universities.
A small group is having an informal gathering in our facility. Do we still need a license?
Yes. A license needs to be obtained regardless of the number of people attending the screening if the movie is being shown outside the home.
How much does it cost?
Licensing costs depend on a few simple variables. Request a quote or give us a call at 1-800-876-5577 to discuss pricing.
Who do I call for billing and payment information?
For questions involving invoices and payments, please contact the Customer Service Department in St. Louis, MO, toll-free at 1-800-876-5445.
Where do I send payment?
Please call our customer service department at 1-800-876-5445 to pay over the phone with a credit card or mail payments directly to our financial institution:
Swank Motion Pictures, Inc.
2844 Paysphere Circle
Chicago, IL 60674
How will I know if my movie order is confirmed?
Your Swank Account Executive will give you an immediate verbal confirmation and email an additional confirmation within one business day. Simply provide us with your email address at the time of your order. If you booked a new release that has an “anticipated” date, you will receive your emailed order confirmation once the date is confirmed.
Can I use my own copy of the movie I want to show?
Yes, you may use your own copy of the film as long as it is from a legal source such as a rental company or a personal collection. To ensure a flawless event, we always suggest that you test the movie in its entirety on the equipment that you will be using for your event.
If I opt to receive a copy of the movie from Swank, when will my movie arrive?
Your movie will arrive at least two business days before your show date. Please test your movie in its entirety as soon as you get it using the equipment and venue you will use for your event. A complete viewing is the only way to ensure everything will go smoothly on the big day.
How do I return the movie?
Movies must be returned on the first business day following the scheduled showing. You are responsible for the movie while it is in your possession and until Swank receives it at our facility. Charges will apply for any delay in returning your movies, up to and including an additional full rental charge.
In most cases, Swank includes postage for your convenience. The shipping and handling charge includes postage for delivery to you and return to Swank. If you have any questions about how to return your movie, just give us a call.
Terms and Conditions
Can I charge admission?
If you charge admission, your total licensing fee will be the flat rate versus 50 percent of your ticket sales, whichever is greater. We will email an audience report that should be completed the following business day after your screening. Payment is due upon receipt of the invoice.
What if a third party says it is okay to publicly exhibit rented or purchased movies?
Third parties 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.
How many days can I show the movie?
Standard licensing is for one day's use unless otherwise agreed upon. You can add additional days at a discounted rate. Simply ask your Account Executive about discounts for multiple-day showings.
What are the restrictions of the license for my movie?
Your order is for a limited license to exhibit only during the agreed upon time at the specified place. No movie or any portion thereof may be copied or duplicated in any manner. Violation of this is subject to the penalties set forth in the Federal Copyright Act.
Are there any advertising restrictions?
You are permitted to use the studio approved images provided by Swank. Please note that these images may not be edited or altered and must include the © symbol and the studio name.
Advertising movie showings via on-premises signage, websites, email, social media accounts or direct mail is acceptable. Any promotion that is done by means of a marquee, lighted sign or billboard that will be seen by the public may not include the name of the movie.
These movies are specifically licensed for non-theatrical showings only. Advertising through media such as radio, television or newspaper is not permitted. If this policy is violated or your screening becomes openly competitive with a commercial theater, your movie(s) may be canceled without notice.
How do I cancel my movie?
Any film may be canceled without obligation if Swank receives written notification 10 business days before the show date. If notification is not received in this time frame, the full rental and handling charges must be paid. Invoices are due at the time of the original show date. You will have up to one year to reschedule that same movie at no additional licensing fee.
What do I do if my show date changes?
All show date changes must be made in writing and received by Swank 10 business days before the film is shipped or the full rental and handling charges must be paid. Invoices are due at the time of the original show date. If changing the date within 10 business days of the showing, then you will have up to one year to reschedule that same movie at no additional licensing fee.
What if my screening is affected by unforeseen circumstances like equipment malfunction, inclement weather, etc.?
If any problems arise that prevent you from showing your film on your scheduled date, you have the option to reschedule the same movie within one year at no additional licensing fee. Please notify your Account Executive the following business day so that we can note the last minute cancellation on your account.
Regardless of rescheduling, all invoices are due at the time of the original show date. Only freight will be charged for the rescheduled show date. Titles cannot be substituted for rescheduling. All advertising and admission policies still apply to the rescheduled show.