Public university library showing of videos

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  • We are planning a public program in association with a traveling ALA exhibit, and I am considering a public program of showing documentary and drama videos we purchased for our library to go along with the exhibt. The "film discussion" series would be open to the public and part of the public educational and cultural program on Women in Medicine. Some say we have to also purchase a showing license, but I don't have a budget for $300 to $600 per video when the attendance is likely to be a dozen people or less.

    We are a public state university academic library. I haven't selected the videos to show yet.
    Someone suggested a way to get around it is to have people host "film salons" in their homes... by checking the video out of the library and showing it to attendees at home. This is unlikely to happen, and who wants to invite complete strangers into their homes.

    Please advise as to how to proceed. The exhibit is coming late spring 2007.

  • Hi.

    I can’t advise about how to proceed, but I can offer a bit more information. The Copyright Management Center at Indiana University – Purdue University in Indianapolis has addressed your situation. It’s discussion is available at:

    The above page mentions that showing videos is straightforward if the material is produced by the government or otherwise in the public domain.

    Alternatively, you could tie the showing to educational programs at your university.

    Finally, you can try to obtain permission to show the work. (This is the safest option in my view.) I’m not aware of the going rate for public performance rights, but you mentioned $300-$600.

    Can anyone else write in with more about obtaining rights or negotiating performance fees? Additional suggestions?

  • Thanks for the note, MFakouri.. I started researching the performance rights of a few of my videos, and found that some of them give libraries and educational institutions performance rights through the institutional purchase price. Films for Humanities and Insight Media seem to offer these public performance licenses with the purchase price of the film.

    I am having much more difficulty with a film such as the recently released, "An Inconvenient Truth", the award winning documentary about Al Gore and his activism to stop global warming.


    pblobaum in Illinois

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