Frequently Asked Questions
Q We show movies, TV, and other audiovisual content via DVD, Blu-Ray, download, stream, over the air broadcast, cable, or satellite TV. Do we still need a license to view or show it in public?
A Yes. The content obtained in all those ways is meant for personal, private use only and is not meant for showing in public. An Umbrella License is needed when MPLC’s rights holders’ content is shown in public.
Q I already have a cable or satellite business package. Do I also need an Umbrella License?
A Yes. While cable and satellite business packages include public performance rights for some content (e.g., for live sports), the packages do not include public performance rights for all the content available in the package. The Umbrella License gives you the most coverage commercially available to fill the remaining gaps, thus protecting you from claims not covered by the rights included in a business package.
Q Is MPLC similar to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC?
A Yes. MPLC collects for the public performance of audiovisual content. Just like you may pay for a music streaming service, and then also pay a royalty to the music collection agencies, MPLC is an audiovisual collection organization which collects public performance royalties on behalf of its audiovisual rights holders.
Q Are there exceptions to the Copyright Act that allow my business to provide movies or TV for free?
A While some exceptions do exist, generally it is difficult for organizations to avoid the legal requirement of obtaining public performance licenses for the use of audiovisual content in their facility.
Q What happens if we choose not to comply with the Copyright Act?
A Failure to comply with the Copyright Act can result in serious financial consequences, ranging from $750 to $150,000 for each illegal exhibition, plus court costs and attorney fees. These can really add up. For example, a defendant in one case was required to pay $36,000 in damages and over $160,000 in attorney’s fees and costs for playing unlicensed music.
Q We rent out our facility to other groups. Can we be liable for copyright infringement?
A Yes. You may be held contributorily or vicariously liable for the copyright infringement if you have a financial interest in the activity and/or make your facility available for a public performance.
Q What are the guidelines for promoting exhibitions under the Umbrella License?
A You may promote exhibitions inside your facility, for example, on flyers inside the building or through direct correspondence such as an email or letter. When promoting exhibitions in this manner, you may include the title, character names or rights holder name. When promoting exhibitions to the general public, limitations apply. For example, if you promote exhibitions on a website, on a social media account, or via any publicly accessible means (e.g. newspapers, billboards), you cannot use the title, character names, or rights holder name. However, it is OK to provide this information in response to a call, text, or email.
Q We only show news or sports channels in our establishment. Do we still need a license?
A Yes. While a cable or satellite business package may provide public performance rights for some news and sports channels, the package may not cover public performance rights for programming offered before or after a news or sports program, such as a television series or documentary specials on such channels. It would also address situations when employees and/or patrons change the channel to a channel that has uncovered content.
Q Are discounts available?
A Yes. Reduced pricing is available for members of the Brewers Association (BA), Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA).
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.