Frequently Asked Questions
Q We show movies, TV, and other audiovisual content via DVD, Blu-Ray, download, stream, over the air broadcast, cable, or satellite TV. Do we still need a license to view or show it in public?
A The content obtained in all those ways is meant for personal, private use only and is not meant for showing in public without permission from the rights holder. An Umbrella License may be needed when MPLC’s rights holders’ content is shown in public.
Q I already have a cable or satellite business package. Do I also need an Umbrella License?
A While cable and satellite business packages include public performance rights for some content (e.g., for live sports), the packages may not include public performance rights for all the content available in the package. The Umbrella License gives you the most coverage commercially available to fill the remaining gaps, thus protecting you from claims not covered by the rights included in a business package.
Q We do not charge an admission fee or cover charge. Do we still need a public performance license?
A A license may be required regardless of whether an admission fee is charged. In fact, the Umbrella License only covers situations where admission is not charged.
Q We are a nonprofit organization. Do we still need a public performance license?
A Yes. The U.S. Copyright Act applies equally to nonprofit and for-profit organizations.
Q We are not open to the general public. Do we still need a public performance license?
A Yes. Any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered including, but not limited to, clubs, lodges, factories, summer camps and schools, requires a public performance license to show audiovisual content to its members or patrons, with narrow and limited exceptions.
Q We rent out our facility to other groups. Can we be liable for copyright infringement?
A Yes. You may be held contributorily or vicariously liable for the copyright infringement if you have a financial interest in the activity and/or make your facility available for a public performance.
Q How much does the license cost?
A MPLC determines license fees based on the type of facility and intended license use. We strive to provide simple and affordable license solutions.
Q What happens if we choose not to comply with the Copyright Act?
A Failure to comply with the Copyright Act can result in serious financial consequences, ranging from $750 to $150,000 for each illegal exhibition, plus court costs and attorney fees. These can really add up. For example, a defendant in one case was required to pay $36,000 in damages and over $160,000 in attorney’s fees and costs for playing unlicensed music.
Q What are the guidelines for promoting exhibitions under the Umbrella License?
A You may promote exhibitions inside your facility, for example, on flyers inside the building or through direct correspondence such as an email or letter. When promoting exhibitions in this manner, you may include the title, character names or rights holder name. When promoting exhibitions to the general public, limitations apply. For example, if you promote exhibitions on a website, on a social media account, or via any publicly accessible means (e.g. newspapers, billboards), you cannot use the title, character names, or rights holder name. However, it is OK to provide this information in response to a call, text, or email.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the MPLC at (866) 552-MPLC (6752) or via web.