What are Public Performance Rights for Movies

What are Public Performance Rights for Movies?

One of the greatest challenges faced by professionals in the film industry that have an interest in ultimately becoming producers or independent filmmakers is the acquisition of rights and releases for the various types of footage, files, or intellectual property that they’ll use. It’s not always that acquiring these rights is difficult. So much that knowing what rights are required can be particularly challenging for the newbie to keep track of. Whenever a copyrighted film or video is to be shared publicly. Before the footage is shared the individual interested in sharing it must obtain public performance rights. But what are public performance rights for movies? And what’s the process for acquiring this particular right?

What are Public Performance Rights?

Public performance rights for movies or film represent the unique legal rights. That are granted by a distributor or film producer. Who holds the legal copyright to a motion picture allowing the designated individual to publicly display the media.

Public performance rights for movies are required anytime you wish to screen copyrighted material to audiences for purposes outside that for the standard use of curriculum-based education or instruction.

For example, public performance rights would be required if you:

  • Represented a student organization and wanted to have a movie night that shared the film.
  • Were an educator that was interested in sharing the film for the purpose of supplementing an event on campus or a meeting that is not curriculum-based.
  • Intended to share a film at a film series or a film festival where others would be publicly able to attend and view the screening.

Basically, if you wish to create a public performance out of a film, in which the film is made available to the public for viewing, you’ll need to obtain public performance rights for movies from the distributor or producer that is currently in ownership of the copyright. 

For the purpose of public performance rights licensing.

The following would be considered a public performance:

  • Any screening that is open to the public.
  • Any screening that takes place in a public location or space. Such as within a library or auditorium on campus or inside a dormitory lounge.
  • Any screening in which access to the screening is not restricted.
  • Any screening in which those attending would be viewed by those who are not typical of attendance. Such as showing a film at a school to visitors, or showing a film in an office to outside individuals.

When are Public Performance Rights for Movies Required?

You might be surprised to know that public performance rights for movies are actually required a lot more often than you might currently be aware of. In fact, technically speaking?

It is a violation of copyright to use a movie for any non-personal purpose unless you have obtained the proper licensing or rights to do so. That said, public performance rights for movies are generally required.

Anytime you intend to share a movie with the public, outside of personal use. And outside of the use of doing so for curriculum-based purposes. 

In Summation

This means, you should seek public performance rights for movies that you want to share in a classroom for fun or at work as part of an event.

It also means that public performance rights should be obtained if you intend to share a movie. As part of a presentation or as something fun for your community.

Motion pictures that you rent or purchase are for your personal use. And should not be used for public purposes unless you seek public performance rights to do so.

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