What Your Community Needs to Know About Copyright Compliance Before You Shout, “Action!”

Regulation | October 10, 2018 | by Stephen Maag

With all the activity within your senior living or health care community, residents and staff may not give a second thought to something as simple as showing a movie. “It’s just for residents,” some might say. “We’re not charging admission.” It seems simple enough, but maybe you remember the FBI warning at the beginning of the movie? The one we all too often fast forward through? Have you ever considered how copyright law applies when movies are shown within your community? Probably not, but you should.

Surprisingly, some staff and residents are unaware that the intended use of copyrighted motion pictures and other audiovisual programs is for personal, private use only. Motion picture showings held within communal areas on the property require a public performance license to comply with Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Act.

You may already hear residents asking, “What…We can’t watch a movie?” Rest assured that watching movies in an individual room with family and friends does not require a license. However, exhibitions in communal areas such as a community room, theater, or lounge, as well as via closed-circuit transmission, are by law considered “public” and require a public performance license.

To make licensing simple and affordable, LeadingAge and all other leading industry associations negotiated an agreement with Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) for member savings on MPLC’s Umbrella License®, the most comprehensive copyright license available for senior living and healthcare communities. The license provides unprecedented access to content from over 1,000 motion picture rightsholders, ranging from major Hollywood and independent studios to faith-based and foreign language producers.

Once licensed, an unlimited number of movies may be shown. Movies can be secured from any legal source whether rented, purchased, or borrowed via DVD, stream, or download. However, unlicensed exhibitions may subject your community to substantial fines for copyright infringement. If your community currently shows movies, please secure the required license to ensure copyright compliance.

As LeadingAge has advised in the past, the 2016 Agreement establishes guidelines for the licensing of motion picture exhibitions in all senior living and healthcare communities. The Agreement states that:

  • All communities, regardless of their type or license status, must obtain licensure for exhibitions of movies transmitted over a closed circuit television system or in-house channel.
  • All communities, regardless of their type or license status, must obtain licensure for exhibitions of movies in common areas such as a theater, lounge, or community room. This includes:
    • Affordable housing facilities and units
    • Assisted living, nursing, and rehabilitation facilities and units
    • Independent living facilities and units
    • Adult day service centers
  • Assisted living, nursing, and rehabilitation units receive a reduced rate on the license. Minimum fees are waived for campuses that are strictly nursing, assisted living, or rehabilitation.
  • Affordable housing units receive a reduced rate on the license.
  • Members of LeadingAge receive a 10% discount on standard Umbrella License fees.

Please contact MPLC directly at (800) 462-8855 or online at seniorliving.mplc.org for assistance with pricing or to ask any questions about the Umbrella License.

Please feel free to contact LeadingAge at (202) 783-2242 with any questions about motion picture licensing requirements within our industry.