Lights, Camera, Campground: Movies, TV, and Copyright at Your Park
Playing movies or TV programs for guests at the park requires a public performance license
Spending time at a campground is the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors. That said, nearly every campground has a TV or offers fun amenities like outdoor movies. A little screen time, either indoors in an air-conditioned lodge, or outdoors under the stars, can be a great treat. However, campground operators should be aware that playing movies or TV programs for guests at the park requires a public performance license.
That’s right, like music, movies and TV programs are intended for personal, private use only and require a public performance license when shown in public. This provision of the U.S. Copyright Act applies to public exhibitions of movies, TV, and other audiovisual content enjoyed from sources like broadcast, cable, or satellite television; DVDs or Blu-ray discs; download sites or streaming platforms. Simply put, even if you don’t plan events like outdoor movies, if you have a TV passively playing a sitcom in a common area at your park, you need a public performance license.
Fortunately, a public performance license is relatively inexpensive. For one-time screenings, you may be interested in a title-by-title license. These licenses are granted for a specific film and are priced according to the audience size and popularity of the title. A title-by-title license is typically a few hundred dollars per film. One of the benefits of this type of license is that you may be able to advertise the title or charge an admission fee.
The more popular license option for campgrounds is an annual license, sometimes called a blanket license. A blanket license provides “blanket” coverage for many different motion picture studios or producers, referred to as “rights holders.” Each rights holder represents many different titles. Blanket licensing is popular because it gives campgrounds the flexibility to show a variety of titles from a variety of rights holders. With a blanket license you can show what you want, when you want, with the assurance of broad copyright compliance. While a blanket license won’t cover every film or TV show ever made, it offers the most robust coverage available to campgrounds at an affordable price. Publicly advertising titles or charging admission is not permitted with a blanket license.
Does your park need a blanket license? Longtime ARVC partner, MPLC, offers the Umbrella License®. The Umbrella License provides coverage for titles from more than 1,000 different rights holders. Show movies from major Hollywood studios like Disney, Paramount, and Warner Bros. Show TV programs from producers like NBCUniversal, CBS, and Discovery. ARVC members pay only $389 per campground, per year. Non-members pay $489. These prices are valid for 2021.
If you need programming ideas, it’s hard to go wrong with outdoor “cinema under the stars”? If you have a pool or lake on your property, host a “dive-in” or “flick n’ float” film screening. Pick a theme and your favorite movies or TV shows.
Even if you don’t host movie night, when your campground provides broadcast, cable, or satellite TV in common areas, a public performance license is likely required.
To learn more about the Umbrella License, contact MPLC at https://campgrounds.mplc.org/ or by calling 1 (866) 552-MPLC (6752) option 4.