What to watch before you play a DVD in your library

If you are considering holding a movie night in your library, you should be mindful of your obligations under the Copyright Act.  Image - Movie Night

Finding the facts on copyright

The Australian Copyright Council has a range of Information Sheets on all the copyright subjects you could wish for.  The Information Sheets are written by copyright lawyers and are current and reliable. To find the information sheet you need, select one of the following tabs: Browse by A-Z; Search for an Answer; or Search by what you do.

Find the Information Sheet: Films, DVDs, Videos & TV: Screening in PublicImage - Logo of Australian Copyright Council

Your Council may already be covered by licences from APRA and PPCA. You should perhaps check with them first before proceeding.

Abiding by copyright law

Here are some facts from the information sheet:

  • Screening a film anywhere outside the home is classed as “public”.
  • The fact that you own a copy of a film, DVD or video does not give you permission to screen it in public.
  • There is no general exemption allowing non-profit organisations to screen films, DVDs or videos in public without permission, even if you do not charge admission.

What is covered by copyright?

The film, the music and the sound recording in a film are all separately covered by copyright legislation.

Who to contact

  • Roadshow Public Performance Licensing (PPL) roadshowppl.com.au handles most commercially and independently produced films. Studios covered include 20th Century Fox, Warner, Paramount, and Universal. They don’t cover Sony or Columbia Tri-Star.
  • Amalgamated Movies Non-Theatrical Film Distributorscom handles Columbia/Tri-Star and Madman Entertainment.

Refer to the Australian Copyright Council website and ensure you are covered under the Copyright Act before you enjoy a film night in your library.

About the author: Karen Hind is Librarian, Public Library Partnerships, State Library of Queensland.