Concerts / Film Screenings / Plays

This chapter describes how you may display or perform works such as music, audio-visual works, and stage plays in a public setting. To request permission submit the Film Showing and Copyright Permission Request Form for permission to show a film on campus. 

Follow the steps given in chapter 5 of this guide, "When Copyright Permission Is Needed," modified as follows.

Note: Determining the copyright status of music may be complicated by the fact that the music itself as well as the audio recording, sheet music, score, libretto, etc., are each considered a "work" and may be copyrighted separately.

In this chapter, public refers to a group substantially larger than one's own circle of family and friends.

  1. The public performance of a non-dramatic literary or musical work (such as a symphony) is permitted, as long as:
    1. There is no admission fee, or, if admission is charged, the proceeds are used exclusively for educational, religious, or charitable purposes, and
    2. The performers or organizers are not paid
  2. The public performance of a dramatic literary or musical work (such as a stage play, opera, or feature film) is permitted, as long as:
    1. The primary purpose of the performance is educational, and
    2. There is no admission fee, or, if admission is charged, the proceeds are used exclusively for educational, religious, or charitable purposes, and
    3. The performers or organizers are not paid, and
    4. The copy (e.g. of the film being shown) was lawfully made
      OR
    5. The primary purpose of the performance is entertainment, and
    6. The college has public performance rights for the work (see chapter 9, "How to Get Copyright Permission to Use a Work"), and
    7. There is no admission fee, or, if admission is charged, the proceeds are used exclusively for educational, religious, or charitable purposes, and
    8. The performers or organizers are not paid, and
    9. The copy (e.g. of the film being shown) was lawfully made

§110 (4), Copyright Act

Sample Scenarios

  1. Question:

  2. The college orchestra is planning to perform Mozart's Requiem. Can I photocopy the sheet music and distribute it to the performers?
  3. Answer:

  4. We must distinguish between the original work, which in this case is in the public domain, and the sheet music of that original work, which may be protected by copyright. If the sheet music is protected, its distribution in photocopies is not justified by the Act. You need to get permission from the copyright holder if you do not wish to buy the needed copies. Alternatively, you could look for another edition of the sheet music that is not protected.
  5. Fair Use analysis:

  6. PurposeModerately favorable. The use is being made at a nonprofit educational institution but the purpose is primarily entertainment.
    NatureUnfavorable. The Requiem is a highly creative work.
    AmountUnfavorable. The whole work is being copied.
    EffectUnfavorable. The photocopying is replacing sale of the work and numerous copies are being made. A mature market exists to supply sheet music to musicians.

  7. Question:

  8. The college orchestra is planning to perform Mozart's Requiem. Do I need to get copyright permission for the performance?
  9. Answer:

  10. No permission is necessary as long as you comply with the copyright exemption described in this chapter.

  11. Question:

  12. The college orchestra is planning to perform Mozart's Requiem. May I make a recording of the performance? If so, how may the recording be used afterward?
  13. Answer:

  14. We consider that Fair Use covers the recording of a performance for the purpose of teaching or personal study. For example, the faculty and students who are performing in the concert may wish to have a recording of it in order to evaluate and improve their musical skill. To strengthen the Fair Use determination, make only the minimum number of copies needed to fulfill this purpose and do not sell or give copies to others. Do not make the recording publicly available on the Web.
    If you wish to sell the recording, or make it publicly available, you should get the copyright owner's permission. See chapter 9 of this guide, "How to Get Copyright Permission to Use a Work."
  15. Fair Use analysis for teaching or personal study:

  16. PurposeFavorable. The recording is being made at a nonprofit educational institution and will be used for teaching, criticism, etc.
    NatureUnfavorable. The Requiem is a highly creative work.
    AmountUnfavorable. The whole work is being copied.
    EffectFavorable. The recording will not replace sale of the work or impair the market or potential market for the work. The value of the recording does not lie in the particular work being performed, but in the fact that the faculty and students are the performers-they will use the recording to evaluate their performance. The recording is not being publicly distributed.

  17. Question:

  18. I want to show a movie on campus. Do I need to get copyright permission?
  19. Answer:

  20. If you wish to show a movie in a public setting, that is, to a group larger than your own circle of friends, and the primary purpose in showing the movie is entertainment, you must get permission from the copyright holder unless you already have public performance rights for the movie. For guidance on public performance rights, see chapter 9 of this guide, "How to Get Copyright Permission to Use a Work."
    If the primary purpose of the showing is educational, that is, part of a class session or similar instructional activity, you do not need permission.
  21. Fair Use analysis for public showings:

  22. PurposeUnfavorable or unfavorable, depending upon whether the showing is primarily entertainment or education.
    NatureUnfavorable. The film is a highly creative work.
    AmountUnfavorable. The whole work is being shown.
    EffectUnfavorable. Showing the film could replace sale of the work (e.g., movie tickets or rentals from video stores). You are showing the film in a public setting.

  23. Question:

  24. Arena Theatre is planning to perform Dorothy L. Sayers's play, The Zeal of Thy House. Do we need to get copyright permission?
  25. Answer:

  26. The college considers that performances by Arena Theatre are performed primarily for entertainment. Thus public performance rights must generally be obtained.

Table of Contents | Chapter 18 | Chapter 20