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Knowledge

Do I need a license if…..

I already have a cable or satellite business package. Do I also need an Umbrella License?

You do if you want a low-cost way to limit the risk of copyright infringement lawsuits from rightsholders of unlicensed programming included in these packages. That’s because your cable or satellite business package almost certainly does not protect you against such claims. As far as we are aware, none of these business package agreements include any warranty that the package includes all necessary public performance rights, meaning you may have no recourse against the provider if it turns out that they don’t in fact have all necessary public performance rights. And almost all of them offer no indemnity against copyright infringement lawsuits from rightsholders of unlicensed programming. This means that subscribers like you could be left on the hook for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars of copyright infringement liability.

That is not to say that you do not need these commercial business packages. You very much do, for several reasons. First and foremost – they provide your organization with great content! MPLC does not provide content – we provide rights to air that content legally in public. Second, they provide your organization with the necessary rights to publicly display the channels in their packages—something else that MPLC does not provide. And third, they provide your organization with valuable public performance rights for certain portions of the underlying content, e.g., live sports, channel-owned content, and even some individual movies and TV shows.

But they do not include anything like all of the public performance rights you need to minimize your risk of liability—there is a remaining gap, and it is significant. Our license goes far to fill this gap by covering wide swathes of programming that their business package does not.

We have a business package from our cable TV or satellite provider. Do we still need a license?

While cable and satellite business packages include public performance rights for some content (e.g., for live sports), the packages do not include public performance rights for all the content available in the package. The MPLC Public Performance 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.

I show movies and tv publicly but I don’t charge any admission or viewing fees. Do I need an MPLC Public Performance License?

Yes, you do.

An MPLC Public Performance license is required to legally show movies and TV  to the public or any closed user group of customers, members or other people.

An MPLC Public Performance license only allows you to show movies without charging admission. If you would like to charge people to see a movie–even without advertising it to the general public–then you actually need a different license called a “Title by Title” license.  We do not provide these but we can provide you with details of other companies who do, just ask us.

If you are showing movies publicly without charging any admission or viewing fees and without publicly advertising specific titles, then you will be covered by a simple, annual, MPLC Public Performance License. This is affordable, easy to buy and can be in place immediately.

Do charities and non-profit organizations need an MPLC license?

Yes, copyright law applies to all organizations and businesses, including not-for-profit organizations, members clubs, public sector organizations and charities.

So when you are showing movies and TV publicly, either to a group of the general public or a closed group of members or supporters, then you still do need a license as a charity or a non-profit organization. The MPLC Public Performance License covers works from the major television studios, movie studios, and many other smaller producers.

But don’t worry, licenses are very affordable, easy to buy, and can be in place immediately.

I work for a public or governmental organization or entity, do we need a license?

Yes, copyright law applies to all organizations and businesses, including not-for-profit organizations, members clubs, public sector organizations and charities.  MPLC licenses many local, state and federal agencies and employees. 

So when you are showing movies and TV publicly, either to a group of the general public or a closed group of members or supporters, then you still do need a license as a governmental organization or entity. The MPLC Public Performance License covers works from the major television studios, movie studios, and many other smaller producers.

But don’t worry, licenses are very affordable, easy to buy, and can be in place immediately.

We already have a public performance license that allows us to play music, do we need this as well?

Yes, you do.

A license for playing music in a public space allows you to play music. The money collected through that license goes to the artists, performers and music labels that produce the music.  This includes the music that is included within TV (in the US, you generally do not need a separate license for the music included in feature films).

To play audiovisual content – films and TV – you need a separate license, and that’s what we provide with the MPLC Public Performance License. The money we collect and share with our rights holders is shared in turn with the individual actors, professionals, technicians, and other creative personnel that create all that wonderful movie and TV content.

An MPLC Public Performance license that allows you to show movie and TV content in a public place is very affordable, easy to buy and can be in place immediately.

We are a private club occasionally showing documentaries. Do we need an MPLC Public Performance License?

Yes, you likely do.  If the documentary is produced by one of MPLC’s rights holders (the list is vast!) then a license would almost certainly be required.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a private club or open to the public – both are treated the same. And whether you show documentaries or a Hollywood blockbuster, a license is required.

But don’t worry, MPLC Public Performance Licenses are affordable, easy to buy and can be put in place immediately. They are a legal way to show movies and TV programs in a public or commercial space.

How does the MPLC Public Performance License for TV and Movies work in practice?

MPLC Public Performance Licenses are very affordable, easy to buy and can be implemented immediately.
You pay us a simple, affordable annual fee based on the type and size of your site, location or business.
You do not need to report to us, or anyone else, which TV or movies that you show. You are free to air any licensed program at any time.
You can use any legal media when playing our rightsholders’ and films. This includes broadcast television, DVD’s, satellite, cable TV channels or content streamed from the internet or a provider. – if it is intended to be “for personal private use only,” it can be used for public performance with the MPLC license. When you have an MPLC Public Performance License, that removes the “personal private use” restriction from the media that you use.
The only restrictions are that you cannot charge an admission fee to watch movies or and you cannot advertise the fact that you are showing a specific film or show (or include a description that identifies a specific film or show) to anyone other than a closed group of the patrons of your licensed premises. Ads on public facing social media pages or Web sites, or any other media that is accessible to the general public are not allowed.
If you want to charge an admission fee or promote the showing of a specific film or show in a more public way then you need a “title by title license”. We do not provide these but we can provide you with details of other companies who do, just ask us.

I am only showing sports. Do I still need an MPLC license?

MPLC does not currently license live sports, so if you only show live sports  you do not need an MPLC license. But very often before or after “the game,” the channel will broadcast a TV sitcom or movie that likely is represented by an MPLC rights holder, for which our license would likely be needed.

In order to avoid committing copyright infringement, you would need some means of ensuring that nothing except live sports could come on the screen, such as a mechanism to avoid the accidental or occasional showing of non-live sports . Without such a mechanism, an MPLC license will address that risk of committing copyright infringement. Often, establishments like sports bars will secure a license because they cannot ensure the channel will be changed when a sporting event game stops airing.

MPLC Public Performance Licenses are affordable, easy to buy and can be put in place immediately. They enable you to show movies and TV programs in a public or commercial space without violating copyright law.

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