Askwith Media Library

Show a Movie on Campus

Before you show a film on campus, you’ll want to make sure you’re legally allowed to do so. Almost all films are protected by copyright, so there are some circumstances in which you’ll need to obtain public performance rights before viewing. 

Public performance rights are a special license that allows a film or video to be shown publicly.

When do I need public performance rights? 

You will need to obtain public performance rights for any copyrighted film or television program you wish to show in full length at a:

  • film festival
  • program, event, or meeting on campus
  • movie night sponsored by a student organization or other group

You do not need to obtain public performance rights for:

  • classroom viewing
  • small group viewing, such as in a study room
  • individual viewing
  • private at-home viewing with family and friends

How can I tell whether rights were already obtained for a film I want to screen publicly?

For films on DVD

Some of the DVDs we have in our collection already have a public performance license, which means they can be shown outside of a classroom on campus as long as no admission fee is charged. These are primarily documentary or educational films.

To find out whether we’ve purchased public performance rights for a film, look up the film in Library Catalog Search. In the item’s record, under terms of use, it will say, “U. Michigan public performance rights obtained.” (See an example.)

For films from streaming databases 

We license several streaming video databases. Content from these can be shown publicly on campus as long as admission is not charged. These include:

The Swank Digital Campus films are for student viewing on password-protected class websites, and are not for public viewing. 

For more information about using video in an academic setting, please see the Copyright and Using Video research guide.

Questions? Contact Jeff Pearson at jwpearso@umich.edu.

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