Using Film in Courses: Public Performance Rights

Refer to this guide when you have questions about using films in your online or face to face courses at Portland State University

Public Performance Rights

What are Public Performance Rights (PPR)?

The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17, US code) governs how copyrighted materials, such as films, may be utilized publicly. Simply owning or borrowing a DVD does not allow you to show it publicly, in other words, it is licensed for individual use only--not to be shown outside the home. 

Do the library's DVDs have PPR?

Not normally. The library typically purchases market value DVDs with the intention that use is for in-home viewing by the borrower. However, in some cases, a DVD is purchased with PPR for institutional pricing, so please check with the library for specific questions. 

Does streaming content have PPR?

In some cases, yes! Certain platforms provide PPR as part of their license. This includes films from Kanopy, Academic Video Online (excluding Film Platform films--those do not have PPR), Docuseek, and Films on Demand. For other inquiries, please check with the library. 

Do I need PPR?  

If you are conducting face-to-face teaching, and only enrolled students in a class are viewing the film--then you do NOT require PPR. This is from Section 110(1) of the Copyright Code allows this, under what is known as the 'face-to-face teaching' exemption. 

If you are showing a film in a student lounge or for a social club, however, it is required that a film have PPR, regardless of whether you are charging admission to view. To elaborate:

PPR are NOT required for:

PPR are required for:

  • All screenings of copyrighted media to audiences outside of regular curriculum. Examples:

    • Student club events, campus meetings

    • Extracurricular sponsored events such as general lectures

    • Film series

    • Online teaching environments

How do I obtain PPR? 

With sincere thanks to the LibGuide created at Williams College, please see below for a list of some copyright licensing agents:

  • Motion Picture Licensing Corporation The MPLC issues umbrella licenses for public performance of major motion pictures. 
  • Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. Offer streaming licenses to many major motion pictures to educational institutions, and in some cases are able to issue public performance rights. 
  • Criterion Pictures is another provider of feature films in North America. they license films for colleges, universities and more. 

To find performance rights for other media, including music and other compositions, please contact the library.

If I have PPR, are there limitations? 

Yes, limit screenings to on-campus, educational uses for the PSU community and not charge admission, with an audience size less than 100. Other uses would need express permission from copyright holders/distributors. 

How to find copyright holders:

Note: the information on this page should be used for informational purposes and should not take the place of legal advice.