Intellectual Property

I want to show a commercial video (VHS tape or DVD) on campus, but outside the classroom.

You can!

Start by:

Determining if the screening is considered public or private.

1. Will the screening take place in your home, dorm, woodframe, or program house?

  • No. The screening will take place in a public space like the cinema, library, science tower, after-hours classroom, etc.

Go to "Getting Permission."

  • Yes.

Go to 2.

2. Will you be advertising the event? For example, will you post the information to a public forum, list serve, Web site, or make posters?

  • Yes.

Go to "Getting Permission."

  • No.

Go to 3.

3. Will you charge admission?

  • Yes.

Go to "Getting Permission."

  • No.

Go to 4.

4. Will you invite a reasonable group of housemates, friends, or family?

  • No, I will be showing the film to a larger group.

Go to "Getting Permission."

  • Yes.

Go to 5.

5. Your screening fits the guidelines for a private performance. You do not need to secure permission to show your film.


Getting Permission

Start by:

Checking to see if the film you would like to show already has public performance rights, or is in the Public Domain. Some of the videos and DVDs owned by the University have been purchased with public performance rights. Those items are ready to be shown on campus as long as you don't charge admission. Check with the librarian or staff member that purchased the film, or carefully read the packaging and/or review the first few frames of the film. In addition, a film in the public domain can be shown without securing public performance rights as long as you don't charge admission. A film is in the public domainif the copyright has not been renewed after 28 years. Be careful to check for warnings at the beginning of a film. If the film has been reworked and redistributed, it likely has a renewed copyright. Public libraries often own some of these titles, and there are Web sources you can check.

Otherwise, you can show the film to your group if you get permission. Getting permission is fairly easy -- films were meant to be shown.

If you are a student, contact Student Activities, stuact@wesleyan.edu, or the Student Activities Web site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/stuact/. They can help you figure out who owns the copyright, and how to pay for public performance rights.

If you are not a student, getting permission from the copyright holder is still easy. You will need to contact the film's distributor. Be prepared to give them the following information:

  • Your name and the name of your organization or group
  • Contact information
  • How you or your group will pay for the public performance rights
  • Whether or not you will need a copy of the film

Most commercial titles are available through one of these distributors:

I want to show a non-commercial video (VHS tape or DVD) on campus, but outside the classroom.

All non-commercial recordings are subject to agreements made with donors, filmmakers and/or performers.

If you are showing the video in your home, dorm, woodframe, or program house, do not plan to charge admission, and do not advertise the screening, you likely do not need to seek permission to show the film. If you are showing the film in a public venue, or charging admission, or advertising the event, or opening the screening to the public, you should look for public performance rights information. If the video recording is owned by Wesleyan University, check with the department holding the video. You can also look on the recording packaging, or in the first few frames of the film for usage information including Creative Commons Licenses and contacts.

These companies offer some non-commercial video recordings.

  • Media Education Foundation. "All purchased videos and DVDs are licensed for classroom viewing and public screening where no admission is charged."
  • Filmmakers Library. "Titles, for sale or rental, include public performance rights."
  • First Run/Icarus Films "Videos purchased from First Run/Icarus Films are licensed with Public Performance Rights for non-commercial and educational exhibition when no admission fee is charged."
  • Internet Archive offers open source movies with Creative Commons Licenses. Be sure to read the licenses, which will specify how the films can be used.

I want to screen a film print (35mm or 16mm reels) on campus, but outside the classroom.

All film prints need specific permission to be shown, both inside and outside the classroom.

Wesleyan has a beautiful new state-of-the-art theater available for film screenings. If you would like to show a film at the Goldsmith Family Cinema, contact the Film Studies Department, ext. 2220. If you are a student, contact Student Activities,stuact@wesleyan.edu, or the Student Activities Web site,http://www.wesleyan.edu/stuact/. For help renting a film with public performance rights, please contact our Cinema Archivist, ext. 3395.

To find out who owns the copyright for the film you'd like to screen, try these sites:

  • Internet Movie Database You should be able to find out who distributes the film here. Then, you can contact the distributor to make arangements for a public performance. Be sure to have the following information ready when you contact the distributor:
    • Your name and the name of your organization or group
    • Contact information
    • How you or your group will pay for the public performance rights
    • Whether or not you will need a copy of the film

For assistance:

Susanne Javorski, Art Librarian, ext. 3326 (for information on Art Library films)
Joan Miller, ext. 3395 (for help renting films with public performance rights)
Alec McLane, Music Librarian/Director World Music Archives, ext. 3899 (for questions about music audio and video permissions)
Library Reference Desk reference@wesleyan.edu, ext. 3873

For more information:

Copyright Crash Course (from the University of Texas System)http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/IntellectualProperty/cprtindx.htm

CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) You can also talk to Ravior Barbara Jones about CALEA.