Public viewing of films for library program

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  • I am a youth services librarian, and our library is interested in organizing an Anime Club for teens and pre-teens.
    My intentions for this program are to view an animated film, discuss the film, have a brief japanese language lesson, and a longer culture lesson. I will be the person running the program and will be present for the entire film viewing, as well as presenting the language and culture lessons. I planned on presenting 1 film every two weeks.

    Is this enough of an educational use that viewing the films won't violate copyright? I've been looking at the qualifications but I still feel I need a more expert opinions.

    1. The performance will be presented by an instructor, and the discussion will be instructor led.
    2. It will be shown at the library and will be a completely free program.
    3. The films shown have been legally purchased by myself or the library.

    I am not sure if this counts as a face-to-face teaching situation "directly related to the curriculum."

    I know I can write and request permission from the copyright owners to present the films, but there are several disney/studio ghibli films that I would like to discuss with the teens, and I can't find any contact information for them. They would likely refer me to a purchased viewing license, which our library cannot afford.

    I look forward to your guidance.

    Alicia Hancock
  • Hi,

    I'm assuming you work in a public library and not a school? The face-to-face classroom exemption for public displays and performances (sec. 110(1)) is limited to nonprofit educational institutions. My understanding is that public libraries do not qualify as such for the purposes of this exemption.

    Failing that, you still have fair use (sec. 107) to fall back on. It's going to depend on your library's policy and tolerance for risk -- esp. with those Disney films! Carrie Russell discusses in Complete Copyright (p. 60) circumstances where a public library performance of a film might conceivably qualify as fair use -- the library has lawfully puchased a copy of the film, the screening is limited to a small group and not publicly advertised, and no admission is charged. However, it's hard to see how you could put on such a program successfully without publicly advertising it in advance, even if such "advertising" is limited to a flyer in the lobby. The educational elements you're planning to include help you with the first fair use factor (purpose of the use), but you still have the other three factors to consider -- and I'd say nature of the work and amount of work used are both working against you. My gut feeling is that you should probably get a public performance license before proceeding. Other opinions??
  • Ah, showing anime- a subject near and dear to my heart. I was one of the founders of the anime club at Syracuse University. I have a similar understanding to RDavis's as far as the actual educational exemption goes. I've acted as faculty advisor for the UTexas anime club in the past, and although I haven't played a particularly significant role, I've tried to encourage educational elements when possible.

    I also agree that the second and third factors for fair use count against you. I'd say the educational purpose count for you, and I also believe that the effect on the market probably counts for you as well. So again, it depends on how risk tolerant/averse your organization is. Edit: I should note, the effect on the market is debated quite a bit in this case. Most of anime fandom advocates that it's a positive effect, but I'm certain that others will think otherwise.

    That being said, the anime market is a unique and interesting one, and companies have been relatively permissive as far as showing works and other activities (ie, fansubbing). You might want to ask permission- back in the day, at least, many American companies that have licensed such works would give permission for this type of showing, as would some Japanese companies (although I haven't asked myself in about a decade). Disney is a different story. You may want to contact Ghibli directly. Contact info in English can be found here: They might be able to point you to domestic contacts. I'm not sure if you were planning on showing dubbed or subbed, but their Japanese-released DVDs also have English subtitles, assuming you have a player that can play that region. That gets into weird import issues, though.
  • I assume you work in a public library and that the club and viewing will be conducted in the public library. My understanding is that the instructional exemption for public performance does not apply to public libraries. Just having an instructor there does not automatically make it instructional. I believe you need to obtain public performance licenses. You can purchase one-time-use licenses from jobbers. You might try some of the vendors listed here:
  • Yes, I do work at a public library. I really appreciate all the advice and suggestions on how to further pursue permissions. Thank you all very much!

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