Frequently Asked Questions

Q We show movies and TV shows that we have purchased or rented on DVD or through an online streaming service subscription. Do we still need a license to view or show it in public?
A Yes. The location requires a license regardless of who owns the content. While you may have rented, borrowed, or purchased an audiovisual program, you are only granted the right to view it for personal, private use, not to perform it in public.
Q We don’t charge admission. 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.
We’re a nonprofit organization. Do we still need a license?
A Yes. Under the law, it doesn’t matter if you’re a non-profit or for-profit organization. You are required to have a public performance license to show motion pictures and other audiovisual works.
We rent out our facility to other groups. Can we be liable for copyright infringement?
Yes. The facility owner can be held vicariously liable or considered a "contributory infringer". A library can be held as a contributory infringer simply for allowing patrons or guests to conduct unlincensed exhibitions on site. Innocuous activties, such as patrons streaming content from Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime on library computers, require a public perfmormance license.
Q How much does the Umbrella License for public library cost?
A Pricing for public libraries is based on the population of your library’s service area. Service Area Population is defined as the area your library is designated to serve, not library cardholders. 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 receive the lowest price.
Does the Umbrella License cover outdoor exhibitions?
A No. The Umbrella License is only intended for indoor exhibitions at the library.
Q Can we advertise?
A Yes, but please be sure to follow our advertising guidelines as restrictions apply when promoting your event through outside channels. Libraries are able to advertise inside the library building, on the library website, and through direct library correspondence to patrons whether sent via e-mail or US Mail. When advertising in this manner, libraries may include the movie or program title, character names, and the studio or producer name. In addition, artwork from the movie or program may be used, so long as it has been obtained legally, and includes the studio’s copyright, for example: © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Be creative with library newsletters and indoor displays to ensure library movie night is a success! Some libraries may wish to advertise events through outside channels. If your library plans to advertise on a website other than its own; through local media such as radio, television, or newspapers; or on outdoor marquees or flyers in the community at large, please note that you may not use the movie or program title, character names, or the studio or producer name. When advertising through outside channels specific information must be limited, however, interested parties may call the library directly for more information.
Q Does MPLC provide a one-time license option for public libraries?
A No. MPLC does not issue one-time licenses for public libraries. The Umbrella License is an annual, facility-based license that allows for unlimited indoor exhibitions at your library. For many libraries, annual licensing represents the best value available and ensures year-round copyright compliance.
QHow do I determine what’s covered
ATo verify if a specific motion picture or audiovisual work is covered under the Umbrella License, you may wish to consult the Internet Movie Database website at Simply search for the title you wish to screen and click on your selection. Scroll down to the “company credits” section of the page. Click on “see more.” On the company credits page review the “distributors.” Look for the USA “theatrical” or “all media” distributor. If the USA distributor is listed on the Umbrella License Producer List for public libraries, the title is covered under your license.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the MPLC at (800) 462-8855 or via web.