Adding the Magic of Movies to the Most Magical of Hotels

Public Performance of Movie and Television Programs at Hotels Requires Licensing

By: Dave Davis
July 28, 2022

The Magic Castle Hotel, situated in the heart of Hollywood, is an AHLA award-winning property perfect for a family summer holiday.  Next door is the iconic Magic Castle Club, which is the foundation of a robust community of magicians in Southern California and beyond. World famous talents like Orson Welles, Johnny Carson, and Steve Martin have refined their magic skills in front of delighted audiences in its mysterious halls. While the hotel does not harbor illusions, ghosts or secret passageways, it provides a kitchen in every room, free candy at reception and their “Popsicle Hotline” where guests lift up the poolside red emergency phone for popsicles on demand.  

Darren Ross, the CEO at the Magic Castle Hotel, wanted to add a movie experience for families, where they could watch family titles from major studios like Disney. He had a sense that he probably needed a license to show movies in public. After a bit of online sleuthing, he found MPLC (Motion Picture Licensing Corporation) online and signed up for their Umbrella License. “We knew that copyright compliance was essential.  We are located in the heart of Hollywood and we understand the importance of copyright to support the jobs and creativity that our neighbors depend upon,” said Ross.  “Once we reviewed MPLC’s license, we were really impressed with the incredible value.  Their license covers almost every movie under the sun, for a very reasonable annual fee.”

Based in Los Angeles, MPLC, is the only company that provides a blanket license, called the Umbrella License®, for the public performance of audiovisual works in hotels in the United States. Founded more than 30 years ago by former studio and Motion Picture Association (MPA) executives, MPLC now licenses hundreds of thousands of locations in more than 40 countries around the World.

MPLC is proud to be an Allied Member of the American Hotel Lodging Association, and AHLA members can receive a 10% discount on an MPLC license. 

“Public performances of audiovisual works are a common part of hotel operations and can help enhance the guest experience,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of AHLA. “We are proud to have MPLC as an AHLA Allied member, and we appreciate that they offer a generous discount to AHLA member hotels. With a license from MPLC, hotels can ensure legal compliance, while supporting the artists behind the movies and shows they enjoy.”

The foundation of MPLC’s business rests on the U.S. Copyright Act. As with music, the producers of audiovisual works are entitled to be compensated for the public performance of their works. When televisions are playing in communal spaces such as fitness areas or lounges, it constitutes a public performance under the Copyright Act.  “We work on behalf of more than 1,000 rights holders, including all major Hollywood studios, to provide a simple and affordable public performance license,” said Brian Novy, Vice President of Licensing at MPLC.

MPLC’s license covers the largest catalogue of film and television content available. It authorizes public performances from any legitimate source, including cable or satellite services, DVDs, or streaming. For example, an Umbrella License covers incidental viewing of a favorite television series on a cable channel in a common area lounge, lobby or hotel bar. And it covers a screening of a favorite movie in the ballroom or under the stars.

MPLC’s license is related to similar licenses on the music side, issued by music licensing companies like BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. “One of the nice things about films and television is that, unlike music where you might need three or more licenses, for film and television MPLC is the only blanket licensor,” said Novy.  An alternative license option is a title-by-title license, typically offered in the US by Swank Motion Pictures. Unlike MPLC’s Umbrella License, a title-by-title license is limited to one specific title. However, it enables the licensee to publicly advertise a film and to charge admission, which is not allowed under an Umbrella License.

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 costs can really add up. An MPLC license, by contrast, is typically less than $3 per day for most hotels.

Hotels can obtain licenses by contacting:

Audiovisual:

Motion Picture Licensing Corporation Phone: (866) 552-MPLC (6752)

Website: www.mplc.org 

Swank Motion Pictures Website: www.swank.com 

 

Music:

Broadcast Music Inc. Website: www.bmi.com 

ASCAP Website: www.ascap.com

SESAC LLC Website: www.sesac.com 

 

 

Dave Davis is Chief Commercial Officer at MPLC.  Prior to joining MPLC, he spent fifteen years at major Hollywood studios, including 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and NBCUniversal.  In his most recent role at 20th Century Fox, Davis was a Senior Vice President in charge of the international distribution of film and television to digital platforms.