Movie Rights (Non-Classroom)

Non-Classroom Motion Picture Viewing Terms and Conditions

Public performance rights are the legal rights held by distributors or producers over the showing of a film outside of one's home. The rights-holder can grant others the temporary right to show the film by selling them or granting them a public performance license. Your space reservation will be held as tentative and will not be confirmed until we receive proof that you have obtained the "rights" to show the film publicly at least 72 hours prior to your booking.

When is a performance considered "public"?

  • Performance at a location open to the public, such as the University Center or Amphitheater
  • Performance is advertised to the public, including and especially on the Internet, chat groups, etc
  • Admission may or may not be charged
  • Attendees consist of more than family and close friends, such as showing a film to a club or organization. The number of attendees does not matter.

Why do I need them?

UWRF, like all individuals and groups must abide by the Federal Copyright Act, which governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be utilized publicly. Anyone wishing to exhibit a motion picture must produce factual information as to where the license was obtained. Willful infringement is a federal crime carrying a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a $100,000.00 fine. Even inadvertent infringements are subject to substantial civil damages, ranging from $500.00 to $20,000.00 for each illegal showing. University Center has also been informed that not only is the sponsoring group responsible, but the venue itself. Colleges and universities are the most frequent violators and are closely monitored.

How do I get them?

The copyright owner is usually listed in the credits of the film. Often, the distribution company is authorized to grant public performance rights. It is recommended that you use a distribution company such as Swank Motion Pictures or Criterion Pictures to obtain the film. Netflix or using personal copies of the film is not recommended.

  • SWANK Motion Pictures, Incorporated – the web site for this company is, and the phone number is 1‐800‐876‐5577. The list of films they distribute is on their web page, but they add new films every day.
  • Criterion –They are the other big distributor. Their web site is, and their phone number is 1‐800‐890‐9494.
  • Conduct a web search – a good place to start is, the Internet Movie Database. Simply go to the site, type your film in the search area on the left, and choose the correct film out of the results. Once you choose your film, go to the "Company Credits" and look up "distribution."

If you STILL can't find out who distributes the film, you can call (310) 247‐3020, to the Reference Library of the Motion Picture Academy.

How much will it cost?

The cost to purchase public performance licensing for a film varies by age of the film, popularity of the film, and at times the distributor. 

What about showing a film in class?

If the film directly relates to the class and is being shown to the officially registered students in the classroom, then permission through performance rights is not needed.


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