It's Not Just A Symbol
It's The Law

The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the U.S. Code) governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be used. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a movie carries with it the right to show the movie publicly outside the home, unless the site where the movie is used is properly licensed for public exhibition.

Ownership of the movie and the right to use it publicly are two separate issues. The copyright holder retains exclusive public performance rights.

This legal copyright compliance requirement applies to motor coaches, schools, public libraries, daycare facilities, parks, recreation departments, summer camps, churches, trains, prisons, cruise lines, businesses, etc.

This legal requirement applies:

  • Regardless of how the movies are obtained
  • Whether or not an admission fee is charged
  • Whether the facility or organization is commercial or non-profit
  • Whether a federal, state or local agency is involved

If you are uncertain about your responsibilities under copyright law, consult your legal copyright representative.

Why is Copyright Infringement a Concern?
The concept of "Public Performance" is central to copyright and the issue of protection for "intellectual property." If an author, computer programmer, musician or movie producer does not retain ownership of his or her "work," there would be little incentive for them to continue and little chance of recouping the enormous investment in time, research and development, much less profits for future endeavors.

Copyright Infringers can be Prosecuted
The Motion Picture Association of America and its member companies are dedicated to stopping film and video piracy in all its forms, including unauthorized public performances, illegal downloading, etc. The motion picture companies can go to court to ensure their copyrights are not violated.

To avoid being cited for copyright infringement, and embarrassing publicity and fines, it is important to comply with U.S. Copyright Law when using movies publicly. If you are uncertain about your responsibilities under copyright law, consult your legal copyright compliance advisor or attorney.

Copyright Resources

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
The MPAA is an anti-piracy organization that is dedicated to assisting local governments and law enforcement authorities in the investigation and prosecution of piracy cases.

United States Copyright Office
“To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
(U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8)

You can download and print our copyright brochure as a PDF.

Need Help?

Can't find what you're looking for? Visit our FAQ Page.