More than anyone, librarians understand the importance of copyright law. Even so, when it comes to movies, some librarians are unaware that copyrighted motion pictures and other audiovisual programs that are available for rental or purchase in any legal format, such as DVDs or other digital formats, whether streamed or downloaded, are intended for personal, private use only. Viewings in facilities, such as a public library, require a license in accordance with Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Act.
Regardless of whether or not an admission fee is charged, this legal requirement applies equally to for-profit and non-profit facilities, including libraries, senior centers, and child care facilities.
A library can even be held as a contributory infringer simply for allowing patrons or guests to conduct unlicensed exhibitions on site. Innocuous activities, such as patrons streaming content from Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime on library computers, require a public performance license. Even if your library already holds a license with another vendor, multiple licenses are needed to ensure broad compliance and avoid the fines associated with copyright infringement.
The Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (“MPLC”) is an independent copyright licensing service exclusively authorized by motion picture studios to grant the MPLC Umbrella License. The license allows unlimited showings of all MPLC authorized motion picture titles within licensed facilities. The MPLC provides its copyright compliance solution to over 450,000 locations worldwide. Member licensees include the smallest camps and schools to the largest multi-national corporations and federal government agencies.