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Copyright Resource Guide: Want to show a film on campus?

How do I get PPR?

Here are a list of organizations that hold PPR for many films. Swank is a great place to start!

When inquiring about PPR, have the following information on hand:

  • Your name and the name of your organization
  • Where and to whom you will show the film
  • How your organization will pay for the rights to show the movie
  • Contact information for your organization
  • Whether or not you need a copy of the film

UWB student groups showing films are required to contact Student Engagement & Activities, ARC-140, (425) 352-5266.

Cascadia student groups showing films should contact Becky Riopel, Director of Student Life.

If you are using a copy from the Library, Suzan Parker, Head, Research Services and Collections, will also need a written confirmation from the distributor of rights purchases.

If you have trouble finding PPR for a film, contact Nia Lam, Media Studies Librarian.

What are Public Performance Rights?

movie theater popcornWhat are Public Performance Rights (PPR)?
Copyrighted films (and this is most of them) are not automatically licensed for public performance (this means showing a movie/film in a dorm, auditorium, or any other kind of public space).  The only legal exception to this rule is if an instructor shows the video/dvd in a classroom and that the activity is for teaching (aka: face-to-face teaching). 

Do the UW Libraries purchase films with Public Performance Rights?
Due to the extra cost and the fact that we are an academic institution, the Library usually does not purchase films with PPR.  Some publishers and distributors (e.g., Films for the Humanities, Film Movement) do include PPR in the purchase price so that these films may be shown anywhere/anytime, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

"Good Popcorn" by Dan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Do I need PPR?

Sometimes it can be confusing to understand when you need to purchase PPR. In general, any time a film is "display[ed] at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered," (Title 17, U.S. Code) you will need to secure PPR rights.

Our event is free, can't we just show the video?

No. Any time you are holding a public event where anyone can come, it is considered a public performance and you will need to purchase rights. Student clubs, student-run film festivals and similar events are all public performances.

Films With PPR

Some film distributors sell films with PPR. These tend to be educational documentaries that are part of the Libraries' collection. Films purchased from these companies include PPR. To see a list of these films available in all UW Libraries, use the links below.

  • Annenberg/CPB: DVD/VHS - Educational and instructional videos covering such areas as arts, education, foreign languages, literature, sciences and social sciences.
  • Bullfrog Films: DVD/VHS - Independently-produced videos on environmental issues, including the areas of ecology, agriculture, indigenous peoples, women's studies, genetics, sustainable development, community regeneration and marine biology.
  • California Newsreel: DVD/VHS;  Online - Films and videos on topics such as race and diversity, African American life and history, as well as African feature films and documentaries.
  • Cinema Guild: DVD/VHS;  Online - Documentaries from around the world, covering such topics as health, the fine arts, social science and sciences as well as world cultures.
  • Documentary Educational Resources: DVD/VHS;  Online - Founded in 1968, Documentary Educational Resources produces, distributes and promotes quality ethnographic and documentary films from around the world.
  • Frameline: DVD/VHS - Frameline’s mission is to strengthen the diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and further its visibility by supporting and promoting a broad array of cultural representations and artistic expression in film, video and other media arts.
  • First Run Icarus: DVD/VHS - Independently produced documentaries, covering a wide range of topics and areas of the world.
  • Films for the Humanities & Sciences: DVD/VHS;  Online - A large selection of videos on a wide range of subjects.
  • Filmakers Library: DVD/VHS; Online - Documentary films and videos covering many subjects, such as, but not exclusively, anthropology, art, psychology, sociology, women's studies, and multicultural issues.
  • Media Education Foundation: DVD/VHS;  Online - Documentaries that encourage critical thinking and debate on the issues and role of media in contemporary society.
  • National Film Board of Canada:  DVD/VHS;  Online - Since the NFB’s founding in 1939, it has produced over 13,000 works and won over 5,000 awards, including 12 Oscars, 2 Canadian New Media Awards and 2 Webbys.
  • New Day Films: DVD/VHS - New Day Films is a filmmaker-run distribution company providing award-winning films to educators since 1971.
  • Third World Newsreel: DVD/VHS - TWN is an alternative media arts organization that fosters the creation, appreciation and dissemination of independent film and video by and about people of color and social justice issues.
  • Women Make Movies: DVD/VHS - Works by and about women, including documentary, experimental, animation, dramatic and mixed-genre films.
  • Zipporah Films: VHS  - Films by Frederick Wiseman.

Booking Films

You can book films from the Libraries' collection to be shown on a future date. This ensures that they will be available and not checked out on the day you plan on showing them. Make sure you book as early as possible and no later than 7 days before your expected showing!

To book a film, contact Campus Library Reserves, LB1-311,, 425.352.3650.