A film projector

FAQs licensing for film events

There is much confusion when it comes to licensing for film events. We asked Filmbank Distributors to explain exactly when and why you need their licence.

Do we need a licence to screen films at school?

Yes! It is a legal requirement to obtain permission from the copyright owners (film studios) to show films outside the home or the cinema for entertainment.

Many of the studios Filmbank represents are members of FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), an investigative body who combat counterfeiting, piracy and the misuse of its members' products. Together with FACT, Filmbank is committed to ensuring that such non-theatrical screenings do not infringe the rights of the copyright owners. For more information, please refer to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (and other relevant legislation) or seek independent legal advice.

What is the right licence for a PTA film night?

The use of film in school offers teachers and PTAs the chance to entertain, fundraise and engage the community. Filmbank Distributors Ltd represents the copyright interests of many of the major Hollywood, Bollywood and Independent film studios for screenings outside the home or cinema (known as non-theatrical screenings). The type of licence you will require depends upon how you wish to use films:

  • PTA and school events, fundraisers, outdoor screenings and 'movie premieres': The STSL (Single Title Screening Licence) provides cover for one-off or multiple planned events (ideal for fundraising) whether commercial (paying audience) or non-commercial (free admission). Events covered by STS Licensing can be advertised with posters around your school and local community. Schools and PTAs planning a film event may wish to screen one of the many pre-DVD release movies available through Filmbank just eight to twelve weeks after their cinema release, providing exciting 'premiere-style' opportunities. With the exception of Grease Sing-a-Long (available through Filmbank), please contact the individual film studio directly for approval to run a sing-a-long event.
  • Impromptu screenings such as wet weather breaks and after-school clubs:The PVSL (Public Video Screening Licence) provides schools with annual cover (from 1 April to 31 March) for the use of an unlimited number of films from participating studios, e.g. during wet weather breaks and after-school clubs including FILMCLUB (members of FILMCLUB need to get a PVSL through Filmbank or CEFM). Under PVS Licensing, a school may only show the film to its school members (staff and students) and may not externally advertise or charge admission for the screening.
  • You will need TheMusicLicence to cover the soundtrack, however if your school already has this licence, under the CEFM (Centre for Education and Finance Management) Schools tarrif, and your event is held on school property, your PTA will be covered. Visit cefm.co.uk for more details.
  • A TEN is not required for a 'not-for-profit' film exhibition held in community premises between 8am and 11pm on any day, provided that: the audience does not exceed 500; the organiser gets consent from a person who is responsible for the premises; and ensures that each such screening abides by age classification ratings. The deregulation guidance further explains, "Under this exemption, one condition is that the film entertainment is not being provided with a view to profit. An entry charge does not of itself make the film entertainment licensable; it is whether the organiser intended to make a profit (that includes raising money for charity). A charge or contribution that is made solely to cover the costs of the film screening is consistent with 'not being provided with a view to profit'. The 'not with a view to profit' condition applies solely to the activity of exhibiting the film under this exemption. A charge with a view to making a profit may legitimately be levied for any other activity or event that is distinct from film admission, such as the provision of refreshments, film talks, or a social event."

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How much does a film licence cost?

The fee for a PVSL starts from £109.17 + VAT for an annual licence (1 April to 31 March). The cost of the STSL for each screening will be a minimum of £83 and allows you to promote your event. If you are charging for your screening, you will be required to pay 35% of your total ticket sales or the minimum fee of £83, whichever is greater. Do not include the value of refreshments (where they are included in the ticket price) when reporting your ticket sales to Filmbank.

We market our film event as an 'after-school club'. There's no need for a separate licence to the one the school uses, is there?

This is dependent upon the organisation responsible for the after-school club. If the after-school club is run by a school and they already hold a Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL), there is no requirement for an additional licence. If an after-school club is managed independently from the school, a separate PVSL would be required by the organisation running the club.

Can anyone help us set up our film screenings?

Contact Filmbank for special 'premiere' screenings and events, pre-DVD release films and all film licensing enquiries. Into Film, a BFI-funded education charity, helps schools set up clubs that provide young people with the chance to watch, discuss and review a diverse range of films - feeding their imagination and nurturing their social and intellectual development. Free to state schools and academies, and offering industry visits, live webcasts and a weekly 'review of the week' competition, Into Film is a great way to boost vocational aspirations and inspire reluctant writers. Please remember that members of Into Film will still need to purchase a PVSL through Filmbank or CEFM to cover their school.

Read our step-by-step guide to running a film event

When might a licence NOT be required?

Films may be used as part of the curriculum during lesson times without the need for licensing. However, in all other instances - such as for entertainment purposes - if a school or PTA does not obtain the required licence they risk infringing copyright. Please ensure that you are showing films within the law and that your school is screening films legitimately.

For more information

Visit filmbankmedia.com

The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.

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