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 The content obtained in all those ways is meant for personal, private use only and is not meant for showing in public without permission from the rights holder. An Umbrella License may be needed when MPLC’s rights holders’ content is shown in public.
Q I already have a cable or satellite business package. Why do I also need an Umbrella License?
A Cable and satellite business packages provide content and may also include public performance rights for some of that content (e.g., for sports programming). These packages may not include public performance rights for all the content 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 A license may be required regardless of whether an admission fee is charged. In fact, the Umbrella License only covers situations where admission is not charged.
Q What qualifies for a "face-to-face" teaching exemption?
A The “face-to-face” exemption is narrowly defined for in-class viewing of educational content at a non-profit educational institution primarily and directly engaged in instruction that uses content as part of systemic instruction. The exemption does not cover content that is used for entertainment purposes, such as at recess or rainy-day showings. The exemption only applies to non-profit educational institutions and does not apply to preschools, child care centers, or educational groups
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 We are not open to the general public. Do we still need a public performance license?
A Yes. Any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered, such as clubs, lodges, factories, summer camps and schools, requires a public performance license to show audiovisual content to its members or patrons with narrow and limited exceptions.
Q Are there exceptions to the Copyright Act that allow my business to provide movies or TV for free?
A While some exceptions do exist, generally it is difficult for businesses to avoid the legal requirement of obtaining public performance licenses for the use of audiovisual content in their facility.
Q What happens if we choose not to comply with the Copyright Act?
A Failure to comply with the Copyright Act can result in serious financial consequences, ranging from $750 to $150,000 for each illegal exhibition, plus court costs and attorney fees. These can really add up. For example, a defendant in one case was required to pay $36,000 in damages and over $160,000 in attorney’s fees and costs for playing unlicensed music.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.