View Full Version : Club wants to show a movie
01-13-2004, 12:31 PM
So this topic set our mailing list alight with debate about whether it was alright or not.
We want to do a week of "recruiting" and one night we want to show a movie and invite new comers to come hang out and watch the movie with us. We wouldn't be making any sort of income off of it.
Is this allowable? How is it any different than doing it in a home setting?
IANAL, etc. The answer is right there in that handy disclaimer at the beginning of every commercially-released videotape and DVD in the United States. Showing a copyrighted work at your club meeting constitutes a "public exhibition" of the work and is a violation of copyright unless you get the permission of the copyright-holder to do so. Realistically are you or your club going to get into any trouble for showing a movie at your meeting? No. Is it legal? No.
01-13-2004, 12:53 PM
I think your only wiggle room is for educational purposes.
A club rented a video from our old store once, and some kid's lawyer-dad dimed them out and created a nightmare for the club. The club was a school club, but the video was for pleasure not teaching.
So...you just never know. Tired old cliche'....I know.
01-13-2004, 01:52 PM
If you really want to be legal, you can rent a film for public viewing. The cost is reasonable if you aren't charging for admission. If you're willing to pay a bit more--and have access to a 16mm projector--you can rent a film that hasn't been released on video yet.
Back in college we rented our movies from a place called Swank Films. There are probably any number of other rental companies as well.
01-13-2004, 02:59 PM
[QUOTE=Philster]I think your only wiggle room is for educational purposes.[QUOTE]And even then, there's not much.
My university has a bunch of movies in its library collection. These can be borrowed by students for personal use, and taken out by faculty to show in class.
However, when one of the university-affiliated non-curricular student groups wanted to use one of the films to show its members (for largely educational purposes), we were told that it was not allowed, because it was not being shown for a university-sanctioned, credit-hour course.
01-13-2004, 03:29 PM
If you are showing Anime, ADV Films makes it easy. I think all you have to do is ask permission and not charge (but I could be wrong)
01-13-2004, 06:47 PM
I used to work for a film studio in LA.
Just send a letter to the studio explaining exactly what you said in your OP.
We used to get letters like that all the time from clubs, churches, schools and whatnot. There is a standard release letter they send you that will allow you to show the film legally. A lot of schools do that when they know they will be showing the same film, for classwork, over and over.
It really is a cover-your-ass excercise. Chances are very slight that the studio would ever find out - EXCEPT for one little glitch...backstabbing rats in your midst. If some disgruntled member of your club were to contact the studio, then you could be in a bit of trouble.
Almost all of our info regarding copyright/trademark infringement came from angry customers, angry (ex)employees, business competition and once from a pissed off ex-wife claiming her ex-husband was having movie nights on their/his big screen tv in the basement and charging his buddies $5.00 for the movie and beer.
Again, for the most part studios don't really mind if you have a one-time showing of their film, (even if you ask for a small donation by viewers for some charity) - but it doesn't hurt to get a written authorization beforehand. Actually, they usually come on nice stationary and are suitable for framing.
However, naming your business the Micky Mouse Drycleaner, or Star Wars Burrito Barn will not be allowed with a nice letter from you, and will have lawyers swooping down on your head in a matter of hours!
01-13-2004, 07:40 PM
Back in college we rented our movies from a place called Swank Films. Ditto, and Swank (http://www.swank.com/) is still in business. I wonder if they've still got all those old Barbra Streisand movies that were as good as a license to print money?
01-13-2004, 09:37 PM
Well thanks for all your explanations and suggestions, I'm waiting to hear from my Campus and see what they have in place for these sort of events, and if they don't have anything I'll fire a letter off to the Company.
01-14-2004, 09:59 PM
Some "creative" dodges:
- Establish a zero-credit "course" during Intersession, Winter Semester, or whatever you call the long break after New Year's that has all the 1- and 0-credit courses (if your school has one). I took a "class" called Films of the 1980s during the Winter Break of my junior year and got to see a different double-feature every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. You can make a very short syllabus, and have the discussion sections include statements like "a great resource for this sort of film would be the <YOUR CLUB HERE> club."
- Check out what the on-campus film club does, if there is such a thing.
- Post a sign-up sheet with the date and time, or ask people to call if interested. When they say "yes," invite them to <MEMBER OF YOUR CLUB>'s place on <DATE> at <TIME>: you're having a little invite-only party, and they're invited to this NON-PUBLIC event.
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