Answered By: Rachel Hyland
Last Updated: Nov 09, 2018     Views: 10

If you want to show a movie to any group that is not just your classroom of students, even if no charge is involved, you must acquire the film with public performance rights.  Otherwise, by showing it publicly, you will be breaking copyright law. The only exception to this law is if the film falls under public domain*.

Luckily the Library has purchased an “umbrella license” that covers a variety of films. Here is a list of some popular titles covered Here is a list of the producers and distributors that are covered. As you can see, this license covers many distributors and producers, but not all.  If your film is NOT covered by our MPLC umbrella license, we can find out the individual PPR (public performance right) cost.

Determining Studio Coverage

To verify if a specific motion picture or audiovisual work is covered under the Umbrella License, you may wish to consult the Internet Movie Database website at Simply search for the title you wish to screen and click on your selection. Scroll down to the “company credits” section of the page. Click on “see more.” On the company credits page review the “distributors.” Look for the USA “theatrical” or “all media” distributor. If the USA distributor is listed on the Umbrella License Producer List for public libraries, the title is covered under your license.

For further information or clarification please contact Rachel Hyland or Lisa Lavoie.



*Public domain comprises the body of information and creativity considered to be part of a common cultural and intellectual heritage. In short, anyone may use or exploit, whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes. There are hundreds of movies, cartoons and dozens of television shows that are now in the public domain. The copyrights to many of these movies were either not properly registered initially or were not renewed and therefore the content is now in the public domain. Many of the most famous movies and cartoons are available for free viewing and free download at Moving Image Archive.  

For more information, see "How Do I Find Public Domain Movies?"