Public Performance Rights for Media

Public Performance Rights (PPR) are the legal rights to publicly show a film or video (media). Normally the media producer or distributor manages these rights and may include PPR in the purchase price. Occasionally, the rights-holder may assign PPR using a separate Public Performance License.

The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the US Code) requires PPR for public viewing of copyrighted media outside of the regular curriculum, regardless of whether there is an admission fee. Examples include:
film festivals
meetings, programs, and events on campus
• movie nights sponsored by student or other groups

PPR are not required for private, home viewing, nor for showing media as part of standard curricular and face-to-face teaching activities. Examples of these exceptions include:
individual viewing
home viewing with family and friends
classroom viewing
viewing in small groups, such as in a group study room

PPR DVDs in the Library
The library purchases some DVDs (primarily documentaries, not feature films) with public performance rights. Those copies can be shown outside the classroom in a public location on the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus when no admission fee is charged. To determine whether the library has purchased PPR for a DVD, look up the DVD in Library Catalog Search. Click on “show complete record.” If the library has purchased PPR, "U. Michigan public performance rights obtained" will be displayed under Terms of Use.

Streaming Resources
The library licenses several streaming video databases, the content of which can be shown publicly on the U-M Ann Arbor campus as long as admission is not charged. Most of the content is documentary. Some feature films are available, such as on Feature Films for Education, Kanopy Streaming, Sony Pictures Classics and the World Cinema Collection. A list of streaming video databases can be found here. The Swank Digital Campus films are for student viewing on password-protected class websites, not for public viewing.  

Public Performance Rights Sources
Criterion Pictures
Criterion Pictures licenses non-theatrical public performance of feature films from studios, including Paramount Pictures (select titles only), 20th Century Fox, Fox SearchLight, and DreamWorks Animation.

• Swank Motion Pictures
Swank Motion Pictures licenses non-theatrical public performance of movies and TV shows from studios, including Disney, Warner Brothers, MGM, Columbia Pictures, and NBC Universal.

• Kino Lorber EDU
Kino Lorber EDU licenses films for one-time community screenings by colleges, universities, libraries, and non-profit organizations. It specializes in art-house and international films.

• Motion Picture Licensing Corporation
The Motion Picture Licensing Corporation offers a blanket license, called the "Umbrella License," that gives licensees public performance rights for its full catalog of audiovisual works. MPLC does not issue licenses for individual works.

For more information about using video in an academic setting, please see the Copyright and Using Video Library Research Guide.

For more information about public performance rights, see: Title 17 of the United States Code, Chapter 1, Section 110.

If you have any questions please contact Jeffrey Pearson at the Askwith Media Library., (734) 763-3758

Note: Some content adapted from the Arizona State University Library website, with permission.

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Last modified: 01/31/2020