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 Yes. The content obtained in all those ways is meant for personal, private use only and is not meant for showing in public. An Umbrella License is needed when MPLC’s rights holders’ content is shown in public.
Q Our library already has a public performance license covering major Hollywood studios. Why do we need the Umbrella License?
A Multiple licenses are needed to ensure broad coverage for a variety of rights holders and protect against copyright infringement. Under the Umbrella License you’ll find more than 1,000 rights holders, including children’s, independent, television, special interest, international, and Spanish language producers.
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 Does the Umbrella License cover outdoor exhibitions at the library?
A Yes. The Umbrella License may be used for unlimited indoor or outdoor exhibitions at your library. Please note that any outdoor performances should be limited to patrons and staff only.
Q How do I determine if a specific title is covered under the Umbrella License?
A If you wish to look up a specific title, there are different online sources, such as the Internet Movie Database website at IMDb.com. Please note that these sources are not always up to date. If using IMDb.com, search for the title you want to screen and click on your selection. On a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “view full site.” Then scroll down to the “company credits” section of the page. Click on “see more.” On the company credits page review the “distributors” (for movies) and “production companies” (for TV). If the distributor (for movies) or production company (for TV) is listed on the Umbrella License rights holder list, then the title is probably covered.
Q How much does the Umbrella License for public libraries cost?
A Pricing for public libraries is based on the population of your library’s service area. It is the population of the area that your library serves. Service area population may indicate the population of the city, county, and/or surrounding areas. If your library has multiple locations, use the service area population of each individual location to calculate the license fee for each location. Please note that service area population is different than library cardholders.
Q I already have a cable or satellite business package. Do I also need an Umbrella License?
A Yes. 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 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 admission to show the content. Do we still need a license?
A Yes. A license is required regardless of whether an admission fee is charged. In fact, the Umbrella License only covers situations where admission is not charged.
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 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.
Q Does MPLC provide a one-time license option for public libraries?
A No. The Umbrella License is an annual license that allows for unlimited exhibitions at your library. Generally speaking, annual licensing represents the best value available and ensures year-round copyright compliance and peace of mind.
Q We want to license all the libraries in our system. What is the next step?
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.