What The Law Says About Movie Copyrights & Compliance
What the Law Says
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 movie carries with it the right to show the movie publicly outside the home, unless the site where the movie is used is properly licensed for public exhibition.
Ownership of the movie and the right to use it publicly are two separate issues. The copyright holder retains exclusive public performance rights.
This legal copyright compliance requirement applies to schools, public libraries, daycare facilities, parks, recreation departments, summer camps, churches, private clubs, prisons, lodges, businesses, etc.
This legal requirement applies:
- Regardless of whether an admission fee is charged
- Whether the institution or organization is commercial or non-profit
- Whether a federal, state or local agency is involved
The Educational Exemption, also called the "face-to-face teaching exemption, is a precise activity which allows the legal use of movies in certain types of teaching. In order for a movie to be considered an "Educational Exemption,î all criteria must be 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, current curriculum being taught. (The instructor should be able to show how the use of the motion picture contributes to the overall course study and syllabus.)
- The movie being used is a legitimate copy, not taped from a legitimate copy or taped from TV.
If you are uncertain about your responsibilities under copyright law, consult your school legal copyright representative.
Why is Copyright Infringement a Concern?
The concept of "Public Performanceî is central to copyright and the issue of protection for "intellectual property." If an author, computer programmer, musician or movie producer does not retain ownership of his or her "work," there would be little incentive for them to continue and little chance of recouping the enormous investment in time, research and development, much less profits for future endeavors.
Copyright Infringers Can be Prosecuted
The Motion Picture Association of America and its member companies are dedicated to stopping film and video piracy in all its forms, including unauthorized public performances, illegal downloading, etc. The motion picture companies can go to court to ensure their copyrights are not violated.
To avoid embarrassing publicity and fines, it is important to comply with U.S. Copyright Law when using movies publicly. If you are uncertain about your responsibilities under copyright law, consult your legal copyright compliance advisor or attorney.
Copyright: A Guide To Information and Resources, 3rd Edition
By Gary H. Becker, 3rd edition. (c2003). Gary Becker is a copyright consultant and manager of media productions for the Seminole County Public Schools in Sanford, Florida. The publisher provides an overview of copyright law and highlights areas most applicable to education, training, and libraries. For further information: Toll-Free Phone: 888-333-2037, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org