I have noticed that public libraries have started holding movie nights in recent years. I've often thought, "that must be nice, how can they do that?" Luckily a few years ago, my wife, Cindy, who is also a school library media specialist, discovered a company that sells public performance licenses for schools (and other organizations). She purchased a site license from Movie Licensing USA. This license allows movies to be shown within their building for entertainment or public performance. Please, note this is separate from the educational exemption or "fair use" / face to face teaching use allowed to teachers. Educators can use resources or show movies/ movie clips in order to teach concepts directly related to their class content.
The license Cindy purchased covered movies shown for reasons other than face to face teaching. This is important to note because on any given day there might be teachers in your building showing movies as a reward or for entertainment! This license allows your school to be in compliance with copyright law (for non-educational performances of movies). Do you want more information on Copyright and Fair Use? Here is a reflection I wrote after attending a great Copyright session held at a state library media conference!
Movie Licensing USA represents studios such as Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros, Colombia Pictures, and more. It allows you to show any movie listed on their website within your school building. This means you can show the movie in any classroom, auditorium, gym, or library within the school. You can show the movies during the day or after hours at night. It is even possible to have a parent night or movie night showing (as long as it is in the building). We learned that you can also charge admission (there is a limit to how much you can make on admission charges, however). If you want to charge for snacks and drinks, it is allowed (there is no limit to the amount of money you can make on charges not related to admission). Our library team began thinking that this could be a nice fund raiser for our program.
We purchased a site license from Movie Licensing USA in March of 2014. It was a perfect time to purchase the license since spring testing occurs in April-May. Many teachers would inquire about showing movies to their afternoon classes (since morning classes were disrupted by school wide testing). This license worked great for these types of classroom applications. The license covers any legal copy of the motion picture (so you can bring a personal DVD, one that you rented at a RedBox, or one that the school owns, etc). Be sure to visit their site (linked above). They have a great FAQ section, and the folks I have called there have been very helpful for any of our additional questions.
We decided to have a movie night after school in December 2014. Divergent had been released on DVD a few months before, and we wanted to show it. We decided to make it a free admission, but we did charge for drinks and popcorn. We made the movie available on one of the afternoons that we have after school library hours. We advertised at school by announcing the event; and we had students sign up, so we would know how many snacks to purchase. It was a great success! Over 20 students attended the movie, and we made a small profit on the snacks sold. A few teachers and one administrator even dropped in! This type of programming is great PR for you and your library program. It can get students and parents to visit for a different type of event. In addition, this could easily be a potential parent involvement program for your school. There are endless possibilities!
Many students wanted to know if we would have another movie night! We are planning to have another event during second semester.
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