Film Licencing

Mobile Cinema Hire

If you are having a private social gathering, and NOT charging admission then

Film Copyright Licence

To screen a film to the public, you need permission from the film’s copyright owner. Usually this is its UK distributor. Permission may be granted in the form of a licence or a film booking. (we can assist or obtain this for you)

The licensing of films for non-theatrical, Blu-ray/DVD screenings can be complicated, but the vast majority of films are available through three major gateway distributors: the BFIFilmbankmedia or MPLC.

The BFI and Filmbankmedia offer online catalogues (see BFI’s DVD catalogue, Filmbankmedia’s catalogue) where you can search to see if they have the rights to a particular film. For details of MPLC’s catalogue, you’ll need to contact their licensing team.

To book films non-theatrically from the BFI, contact their bookings team.

To book films from Filmbankmedia and MPLC you will need to purchase one of their licences. They both offer options for commercial and non-commercial screenings with guidelines to help you decide which is appropriate for you.

Popular licensing options

  • Filmbankmedia – Single Title Screening Licence

    The Single Title Screening Licence (STSL) is issued on a title-by-title basis. This allows you to screen films from Filmbankmedia’s online catalogue, in either commercial (paid audience) or non-commercial (free of charge) environments as well as promote the screening outside of the venue itself.

  • Filmbankmedia – Public Video Screening Licence

    The Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL) is an annual licence for premises where films will be shown regularly to a non-paying audience for background / ambient use. You can screen an unlimited number of films per year from PVSL participating studios and distributors, and from your own DVD copies.

  • MPLC – Single Title MPLC Movie Licence

    The Single Title MPLC Movie Licence is issued on a title-by-title basis. This allows you to screen films from the MPLC’s Movie Licence Producer list, in either commercial (paid audience) or non-commercial (free of charge) environments, using your own DVD or download file purchased from any legitimate outlet.

  • MPLC – MPLC Umbrella Licence

    The MPLC Umbrella Licence is an annual licence for use by groups and organisations who may use film in a non-theatrical environment and for non-paying audiences. It is an annual licence that allows unlimited showings of films throughout the year from the producers, film studios and distributors that MPLC represent. You can use your own DVD or download file purchased from any legitimate outlet.

Showing TV broadcasts that include film

In 2016, there was a change to the law which some licensing companies have interpreted to mean you need an additional ‘broadcast’ licence to screen normal TV day-to-day programming – which may include films – in public; in addition to your normal TV licence.

For information on TV broadcasting please refer to the Intellectual Property Office’s guidance on showing television broadcasts in public or contact the IPO directly for more detail.  You can also contact the relevant film copyright holders, and/or the relevant TV channel(s), to seek clarification on whether you need their permission to show the TV broadcast in public.

Online content

To screen content from online streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime can be difficult. Just because the content is available online does not mean you can screen it to the public, as subscriptions to these services give you home entertainment rights only – so you will need to seek additional permissions.

Your ability to do so largely depends on whether it is exclusive content or not and whether there are other, active non-theatrical rights holders. Many films that are available to view via Netflix are also available to book for non-theatrical screenings from companies like Filmbankmedia, for example, with independent features on the platform potentially available to book directly from independent distributors or producers. However, films and TV series created by Netflix are generally exclusive to the platform, with one (current) exception – some Netflix Original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings. We suggest you contact Netflix and Amazon Prime directly for clarification on the availability of other content via their ‘Help’ pages.

 

Education sector

Films screened in schools or universities may be exempt from copyright licensing if they are screened as part of curricular activities, or are part of a particular curriculum, though films screened for extra-curricular purposes – e.g. as part of after-school clubs, university film societies or for fundraising purposes – do require additional licensing.

However, if you are a state school and wish to screen films to non-paying students outside of the curriculum, e.g. in after-school clubs, you may already be automatically covered by a Filmbankmedia PVSL licence purchased by the Department of Education. Click here for details.

In the public domain?

Films over 50 years of age and for which there are no active rights holders may be out of copyright, in which case you can screen them to the public without film copyright licensing. However, it can be hard to find out which films are truly out of copyright, as rights are still kept up on many titles older than this. See our FAQ for further details.

Please note the information provided here is a guide and does not constitute legal advice. For detailed information about the Licensing Act 2003 please click here.

Premises Licencing

If you plan to charge for tickets to your screening to generate a profit, you will need to check your chosen venue has a premises licence to exhibit films as stipulated by the Licensing Act 2003.

Is my screening for or not-for-profit?

If you are charging for tickets but only to cover your costs, and assuming your screening is to be held between 8.00am and 11.00pm, your venue does not need a premises licence. The Licensing Act 2003 defines screenings of this type as not-for-profit.

You can charge for additional activities (such as refreshments or film talks) with a view to making a profit, as long as these are kept distinct from admission to the film itself.

If you are screening to generate a profit, you need to check your chosen venue has a premises licence in place. Please note that this extends even to screenings where you are selling tickets to raise funds for charity.

My screening will require premises licensing. How should I proceed?

In the first instance, check with your venue if they have an existing premises licence in place. Many public-facing venues do; if it’s a venue typically used for other types of entertainment (e.g. a theatre, community centre, concert hall or gallery) it almost certainly will.

If you’re unsure, it’s best to contact the licensing officer at your local authority for advice.

See below for further details of the types of premises licence you can acquire to cover your venue to screen a film.

Licensing Act 2003

Under the Licensing Act 2003 a licence is required to provide ‘regulated entertainment’ to members of the public or a section of the public and for members of a club and their guests. One of the descriptions of ‘regulated entertainment’ is the exhibition of a film.

There are three types of licences available to provide ‘regulated entertainment’:

  • A premises licence

  • A club premises certificate

  • A temporary event notice

1. Premises licence

A premises licence is a licence granted, in respect of any premises, which authorises the premises to be used for one or more licensable activities, such as the provision of regulated entertainment. An application for a premises licence must be made to the local authority that the premises is situated in.

As outlined above, since April 2015 you no longer need a premises licence if your screening is a) not-for-profit and b) to be held between 8.00am and 11.00pm. Read about this exemption in the government’s guidance, revised in April 2018 (pg. 130) here.

If you are using a theatre, community centre etc. to show films you will probably find that the premises already has a premises licence from the local authority. You will need to check with the holder of the premises licence that the licence authorises the exhibition of film. If it does not, the holder of a premises licence may apply to the licensing authority for a variation of the licence.

For further details about premises licences please see Part 3 of the Licensing Act 2003.

2. Club premises certificate

A club premises certificate is a certificate in respect of premises occupied by, and habitually used for the purposes of, a club, for one or more qualifying club activities specified in the certificate. A qualifying club activity is the provision of regulated entertainment, where that provision is by or on behalf of a club for members of the club and their guests. For further details about the club premises certificate please see Part 4 of the Licensing Act 2003.

3. Temporary event notice

You can apply to your local authority for a temporary event notice to put on a licensable activity (exhibiting a film) if it is a temporary activity where you are proposing to use premises during a period not exceeding 96 hours. For further details about permitted temporary activities please see Part 5 of the Licensing Act 2003.

Exemptions

There are exemptions from the Licensing Act 2003 – a film is not regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment if its sole or main purpose is to demonstrate a product; advertise goods or services; provide information, education or instruction; consists of or forms part of an exhibit put on show for any purposes of a museum or art gallery.

Please note the information provided here is a guide and does not constitute legal advice. For detailed information about the Licensing Act 2003 please click here.

Under the Licensing Act 2003 there are many exemptions:-

  • Local authority premises. No licence is needed for any entertainment taking place on the premises of the local authority as long as the entertainment is being provided by or on behalf of the local authority.

  • Hospital premises. No licence is needed for any entertainment taking place on the hospital premises as long as the entertainment is being provided by or on behalf of the health care provider.

  • School premises. No licence is needed for any entertainment taking place on the school premises as long as the entertainment is being provided by or on behalf of the school proprietor.

  • Community premises. No licence is needed for a film exhibition as long as it is "not-for-profit” and the audience does not exceed 500.  The organiser must get consent to the screening from a person responsible for the premises and must ensure that such screening abides by age classification ratings.

  • A church hall, village hall, community hall or other similar community premises that is not licensed to sell alcohol. No licence is needed for a performance of live music or to play recorded music between 8am and 11pm before an audience of no more than 500 people as long as the organiser gets consent for the performance from a person responsible for the premises.

The KEY here is 'PROFIT' If your event is intended as 'FOR PROFIT'  

IF IN DOUBT ASK!

Please note the information provided here is a guide and does not constitute legal advice. For detailed information about the Licensing Act 2003 please click here.

Mobile Cinema Hire

Cost of Licencing

The cost of licence is not as much as you may think, BUT it depends on how many showing you are planning, how many days you wish to show the same film, and if you are charging for admission.

STSL stands for Single Title Screening Licence. This type of licence allows you to showcase films to your audiences on a per screening basis*

*With this licence, and subject to approval, customers are able to charge ticket admission and advertise their screenings.

OUTDOOR Screening you charge for:

A licence fee for outdoor and drive-in screenings starts from £139 (exc. VAT) per screening or 40% of your Box Office return.

You may be asked to submit an advanced payment by Filmbank.

As stated above you may also need some of the following: PRS for Music (PRS), Temporary Events Notice (TEN), Radio Broadcast Licence (SRSL)..

 

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