Associate Professor, Mansfield Library
Visual and Performing Arts Librarian and Copyright Coordinator
tammy.ravas [at] umontana.edu
Associate Professor, Mansfield Library
Digital Initiatives Librarian
wendy.walker [at] umontana.edu
Mansfield Library Reserve Materials Supervisor
julia.jackman-brink [at] umontana.edu
University of Montana General Counsel
lucy.france [at] umontana.edu
Media copyright can be especially complex. A single work may simultaneously exist in multiple formats (e.g. analog, digital, web-based) and may have multiple creators: the composer or writer, the performance director, and the performer, for example. Media (or in fact any work) need not have a copyright symbol in order to be protected by copyright, and therefore it is essential to seek the proper exemptions or permissions to use the material. See this guide for more information about Fair Use and TEACH Act exemptions.
If your intended use of media does not fall within the provisions of Fair Use or the TEACH Act, it is essential that you seek permission from the copyright holder(s). For example, anyone wishing to show a film or video in a public venue needs a public performance rights license (PPR) from the copyright holder(s).
Please also see the Media Resources Guide for further information.
I’ve been told that if I want to show a film on campus in the University Center’s Theater, I need 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)—irrespective 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
What does a PPR rights license look like?
It depends on who is issuing it. There is no standard format. However, typically the license itself is often a paper document issued by the rights holder (it might be sent by email or fax) stating explicitly the terms of the terms of the license including: 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 this PPR thing? It sounds like a hassle.
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 https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/110.
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.” By and large these are typically “educational,” “documentary,” or “small independent”-type films, but never “Hollywood”-type films (i.e. Napoleon Dynamite, or Brokeback Mountain).
Please ask the Visual and Performing Arts Librarian and Media Coordinator, Tammy Ravas (e-mail: tammy.ravas[at]umontana.edu or 406-243-4402) for information on the PPR status of an educational, documentary, or independent film in our collections.
Can the library get the PPR license for me?
The Mansfield Library does not obtain PPR licenses for individuals or groups. The process of searching for PPR can be lengthy and time-consuming. 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.
So how do I go about finding this PPR?
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. 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.
Start with the film in hand, and examine the VHS tape or DVD itself (or its case/container):
You can also try searching online for more information. Try using Google, The Internet Movie Database, or Amazon to search for more information about the film; try to find contact information for the people or company(ies) that produced it. Be persistent!
In addition, there are several organizations that handle “blanket PPR licenses” for many of the major film studios, and are an excellent resource (again, keep in mind that you should expect to pay a PPR license fee):
Swank Motion Pictures, Inc (800) 876-5577
Finally, when you do obtain a PPR license for a film that you plan to screen/show from the Mansfield Library’s collection, make sure to reserve the film through the library’s online media booking form. This will ensure that the film is available to you, when you need it.
Please remember that any use of copyrighted works is at user discretion subject to the restrictions and other considerations above. Guidance provided by the Mansfield Library, including the contents of this site, should not be considered legal advice.