Skip to Main Content

Copyright for UMSL Faculty

A guide to copyright rules and regulations in an educational setting.

What are Public Performance Rights?

"Good Popcorn" by Dan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What are Public Performance Rights (PPR)?movie theater popcorn - "Good Popcorn" by Dan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Copyrighted films (and this is most of them) are not automatically licensed for public performance (this means showing a movie/film in a dorm, auditorium, or any other kind of public space).  The only legal exception to this rule is if an instructor shows the video/dvd in a classroom and that the activity is for teaching (aka: face-to-face teaching). 

Do the UMSL Libraries purchase films with Public Performance Rights?

Due to the extra cost and the fact that we are an academic institution we do not purchase films with PPR.  

Do I need PPR?

Sometimes it can be confusing to understand when you need to purchase PPR. In general, any time a film is "display[ed] at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered," (Title 17, U.S. Code) you will need to secure PPR rights.

Our event is free, can't we just show the video?

No. Any time you are holding a public event where anyone can come, it is considered a public performance and you will need to purchase rights. Student clubs, student-run film festivals and similar events are all public performances.

Public domain movies

Public domain movies do not need Public Performance Rights cleared. 

How do I get PPR?

How do I get PPR?

Here are a list of organizations that hold PPR for many films. Swank is a great place to start!

When inquiring about PPR, have the following information on hand:

  • Your name and the name of your organization
  • Where and to whom you will show the film
  • How your organization will pay for the rights to show the movie
  • Contact information for your organization
  • Whether or not you need a copy of the film