I’ve been told that if I want to show a film on campus in the University Center’s Theater, I need to get something called “PPR”. What is “PPR” (or, Public Performance Rights)?
Any time you plan to screen/show a film to the public (“public” here meaning anyone attending a film screening/showing in an auditorium, theater, or any other kind of unrestricted open space, either indoors or outdoors)—regardless of the film’s format or whether or not you are charging admission—you must first seek permission to do so from the film’s copyright holder(s). This permission comes in the form of a license from the rights holder called a PPR (Public Performance Rights) license. The University Theatre's "Copyrights" policy can be found on this page; scroll down and click on "Copyrights" for more information.
What does a PPR rights license look like?
It depends on who is issuing it. There is no standard format, but it should be in writing (e.g. e-mail, pdf, Word file, fax, physical letter). However, the license itself explicitly states how you may use the film. This includes: the name of the person/company issuing the PPR license; the title of the film being screened/shown; the date and time of the screening/showing for which the license is valid; the name and address of the venue or location where the film is to be screened/shown; and the names of the person(s) or organization(s) to whom the license is issued.
Do I really need to get public performance rights to show this film in public? It sounds like a pain.
The only legal exception to the PPR requirement is if, for example, a University of Montana instructor is showing a film in class as part of his/her face to face teaching (i.e. as part of the course syllabus) to students in the class. For more on the law itself, visit this link.
Can I find out if a film the library owns already has PPR?
Some of the films currently in the Mansfield Library’s collection have been purchased with “PPR included.” These films are typically educational or documentary in nature. We do NOT have public performance rights for “Hollywood”- or major studio titles or series; for example, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Breaking Bad, or Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Here is a canned search in our catalog that will show most of the public performance licensed films we currently own. If you find a title you wish to show, please reach out to the following e-mail address to confirm the details and limitations of the PPR license on that film: library.acq [at] mso.umt.edu.
Can the library get the PPR license for me?
The Mansfield Library does not obtain PPR licenses for individuals or groups. PPR may be built into the cost of acquiring a DVD or streaming film. If you submit a Purchase Request for a film, you might indicate that PPR is of interest.
Will I need to pay for a public performance rights license?
Very often there is a charge associated with a PPR license; anywhere from $100-$900 per film per screening is not uncommon. Searching for and obtaining a PPR license (and any attendant costs) are always the responsibilities of the person(s) screening or showing the film. Please budget accordingly.
How long will this process take?
It’s best to begin your PPR research early. Give yourself at least 2 weeks lead time before you plan to screen/show a film.
So how do I go about finding this PPR?
You will be searching for contact information—a name, a phone number, an email, or a web address of the person(s) or company(ies) involved who control the copyright and/or the rights for the film.
If you have a physical copy of the film, look on the case/container for the following information:
If you just have the title of the film, use this information to locate the owner or rights-holder using Google or IMDb.
Additionally, there are several organizations that handle “blanket PPR licenses” for many of the major film studios.They are excellent resources for answering questions about this process. Please remember that you should expect to pay a PPR license fee.
What do I do after I receive PPR to show the film?
Either print out or e-mail a copy of the PPR for the University Theatre staff. Also, be sure to save and retain the written documentation of the PPR you received to show the film.