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Showing Films in Congregations

Planning to Show a Film?

You are legally and ethically required to follow public performance laws.

A movie that you rent or purchase is licensed only for private use in your home. You cannot show it in public without a public performance license. A public showing includes showing it at a children, youth, adult or multigenerational event, even if you do not charge admission.

There are some very narrowly defined “fair use” exceptions to the license requirement, but most congregational film showings do not meet those criteria.

The Motion Picture Association of America offers this statement about public performance law, as well as information on obtaining a public performance license.

The American Library Association offers this helpful statement for educators (PDF), which offers guidance on limited classroom fair use exceptions.

While we hope this information is useful, please remember that Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice.

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Last updated on Thursday, March 22, 2012.

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