Why You Need A Movie License

Planning to do a church movie night?

Then you need to know about The Copyright Act. Title 17 of the United States Code says that it is illegal to show a movie in any public venue, including churches, clubs, camps and schools* without a movie license. Even inadvertent infringers are subject to significant penalties (as much as $150,000 per exhibition — see Section 506) for doing a public showing without a proper movie license.

Some churches participate in movie license programs like CVLI. CVLI is a privately held company that provides a movie license for specific producers. CVLI is not a legal entity providing an 'umbrella movie license' for any/all films shown in your church.

If you are planning to do a church movie night, it's important to note that the CVLI movie license does not allow you to promote your movie event using the movie title, characters or the producers in any external/public advertisement/publicity. In fact, many producers are moving toward a licensing model that allows churches to use their films as outreach resources, provides significant promotion for their film, and a larger share of the license revenues to fund new films in the future, unlike a CVLI-type movie license.

Using a movie as a community outreach event means you'll need to be able to promote your event. The most effective way to promote a movie event is through names your audience will recognize, like the movie title, actor names and producer names.

So at Outreach Films we've worked with producers to not only provide you with a movie license that allows you to show the movie for an entire year, it also allows you to promote your event by talking about the specific movie you will be showing. Plus, when you purchase the Movie License Package you also get promotional materials — all you'll need to do is add your event information and start spreading the word.

*Non-profit schools can show movies without a movie license for "face-to-face teaching activities" — the details of what is included under this exception are outlined in Section 110(1).

Read Why Host A Church Movie Night? »

Check out the five steps to hosting a church movie event »