Office of Student Activities

Student Organization Policies

Movie Policy

If you are interested in showing a movie on campus for public consumption, please read the frequently asked questions below. The University Union Board (UUB) has a contract through Swank and can assist you in securing a movie copyright to show it in public. Please contact UUB at for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are Public Performance Rights?

Public Performance Rights are the legal rights held by distributors or producers over the showing of a outside of one's home. The rights-holder can grant others the temporary right to show the by selling them or granting them a Public Performance License.

2. When do I need to obtain a Public Performance License?

Any time a film is shown outside a person's personal home, the screening is considered "public". It does not matter if admission is charged or if the entity screening the is a non-profit organization, school, or library. If the is being shown outside the home, it is considered "public".

3. What about the "Teaching Exemption"?

The Copyright Act allows films to be screened in face-to-face teaching situations, defined by specific criteria. To be eligible for the teaching exemption, the screening is limited to students who are enrolled in a class in which the film is a part of systematic mediated instructional activities, the instructor is present, and the screening is an integral part of the classroom session. Playing films for the department, for honors students, or as a "film series" or lecture series does not qualify for the teaching exemption, but requires a Public Performance License.

4. I bought a tape or DVD from the distributor for my school or library. Does it include Public Performance Rights?

Most tapes are sold without Public Performance Rights, but some tapes or DVDs are sold with limited Public Performance Rights. They may enable you to play the tape for its lifetime in public screenings on your campus. However, you may not copy the tape or lend the tape to other institutions or organizations, or charge admission for the screenings you hold with that tape. These rules may vary, so check carefully with the distributor when purchasing.

5. How can I obtain a Public Performance License for my screening?

Performance licenses can be obtained by ordering movies through a reputable film company. The price the company charges will include the performance license. One of the companies that we use frequently is SWANK Motion Pictures, Inc. but there are several other movie distribution companies that can be used. Below is a list of their phone numbers and websites:

If you are interested in ordering a movie, you can contact one of the companies directly by using the above contact information or if you need additional assistance, you can contact the Office of Student Activities at 298-3232.

6. Isn't it cheaper to just rent a movie from a video store?

Renting or purchasing a movie from a film company is more expensive than renting or buying a video at the video store. On average, the cost to rent or buy a movie from a movie company can be anywhere from $400-$700 depending on the movie, the number of showings, etc. However, when you rent or buy a video from a video store, you are not buying the rights to show it in a public setting.