Why can't some public film screenings name the movie being shown?

Every summer local libraries and parks departments host free family movie nights under the stars, where the community is invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs and watch a movie on an inflatable screen. 10 years ago they would name the movie. But I’ve noticed in the past 3-4 years, the trend is to give an obvious description (“The sixth adventure of a boy wizard in wizarding school”, “Julia Roberts provides the voice of a spider that saves the life of a pig living on its farm”) but not the name. Sometimes there’s a note to call the library reference desk or parks department for the actual name. Why??? They can name the actors, give a description, but not the title.

My guess is to get around some legal prohibition imposed by the studios relating to “public performances”. I’ve noticed when the local elementary school does fundraising movie nights on the playground, they do announce the title. Are they violating their deal?

I know that my school often got permission for this sort of thing, ever since one kid ratted out the teacher for a public showing (which was defined as showing to more that 7 people.)

In fact, that definition makes me suspect that not listing the title would not help, so I’d assume it’s a specific part of the agreement they got to show the movie. It just doesn’t make sense as a loophole, and it’s not fooling anyone who would actually care to get them in trouble.

You’re supposed to pay to show the film. If you don’t say the name, then the studio will probably miss it. It doesn’t protect you, but when they search for the film name (studios hire clipping services to check for announcements of their films – though they probably don’t physically clip the newspaper any more), it won’t show up.

It’s still putting the venue at risk of a fine, though.

The license my library has to show public films weekly specifically states we can’t advertise the title outside of the building. We do pay for a license to show specific movies, but we cannot give out the title.

It’s frustrating, but there it is; we’re not trying to avoid a fine, we’re doing what the licensing company asks.

By not saying the title are you given a cheaper rate to screen the movie though?

I’ve never noticed it here in Australia; they always name the film. Having said that, it’s usually the local City Council or someone like that organising the screening, though.

That’s possible. I’ll ask around. :slight_smile:

Okay, I asked around and found out the cost of the license is the same. I found the applicable line in our Public Performance Site License:

This is from Movie Licensing USA: http://www.movlic.com/

I wish I knew the motivation behind the rule, though.

The reason it is suggested that you not advertise the name of the movie is so that you are not in competition with the local movie theaters. If you are showing a new release for free at you Library or School, the local theaters may percieve a loss of business with their titles.

It should be noted that the rule is a guideline only.