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Film (DVDs, VHS & Streaming): Public Performance Rights (PPR)

Public Performance Rights

Copyrighted films are not automatically licensed for public performance (showing a film to a group of people in a public space). 

Obtaining PPR means that the film's copyright holder receives compensation beyond the purchase price the library paid for the film.

The Colby Libraries are not responsible for obtaining PPR or paying for any performance fees for library-owned films.

However, librarians are available to assist individuals and groups in identifying the copyright holder.

What is a Public Performance?

Copyright law (USC 17§101) states a performance is public if it is in a public space or if it is in any place if "a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its acquaintances" is gathered there.

Colby classrooms, meeting rooms, auditoriums and dorm lounges are considered public spaces.

The Teaching Exception:

Copyright law (USC 17§110) makes exceptions to public performances that take place in face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution; therefore, faculty and students can freely view a film that

  1. takes place in a Colby classroom and
  2. is used for instructional purposes in the class and
  3. is only open to students enrolled in that class

Do I need to Obtain Public Performance Rights?

Yes ... No...

If the screening is open to the public, such as showing a foreign-language film to the community for cultural enrichment

If the screening is in a public space where access is not restricted, such as an instructor showing a film to a class for curriculum-related purposes in a public or unrestricted-access location

If persons attending are outside the normal circle of family and acquaintances, such as showing a film to a club or organization, or showing a film for class but inviting others to attend

If privately viewing the film in your room with friends

If an instructor is showing the film to officially registered students in a classroom, where content of film directly relates to course

 Courtesy of Williams College

How to Obtain PPR

A few films in the Colby Library collections already have performance rights. If so, this will be noted in the CBBcat record. If performance rights are not indicated in the CBBcat item record, contact the copyright holder to obtain them. The individuals and organizations using the films are responsible for obtaining performance rights for library-owned films.

1. Determine who the copyright holder is.

  • Search CBBcat for publisher and distributor information.

  • Search WorldCat for newer formats of film. Copyright holder will likely be included.

  • Check the IMBd database for "Company Credits"

2. Google the name of the copyright holder, or use a directory like Switchboard to find current contact information.

3. Document your contacts and keep records of all related correspondence.

4. Additionally, there are Copyright Licensing Agents that make available PPR: