Film Screening Guidelines
All film events scheduled in the Floyd Theater and other Student Activities Center venues must comply with the Federal Copyright Law, which regulates the public exhibition of films. Screenings in the Floyd Theater and other public venues on campus do not qualify for the “educational fair use” exemptions granted by the federal code. To ensure that the University complies with federal law, all films to be exhibited in the SAC must be licensed for public exhibition. To obtain licensing, sponsors of screening events must follow procedures described by the three criteria below. Only one of these three criteria must be met to authorize a screening event.
It is the sole responsibility of the event’s sponsor to ensure that one of these criteria has been fulfilled prior to their screening event. The failure of a sponsoring organization to fulfill these obligations will result in the cancellation of their screening event. A cancellation for this reason will not absolve the sponsor of its financial obligation for the event.
Criteria for permissible screenings in the Student Activities Center
1. Provision is made with the Student Activities Board Film Committee or its staff advisors to license and rent the film through a theatrical or non-theatrical vendor. The SAB and its advisors will then license and, in most cases, provide the film to be exhibited. Unless other arrangements are made with SAB, sponsors will be billed for the licensing accordingly. (Payment arrangements: added to SAC bill or billed separately?)
In some cases, the SAB will only provide licensing for the film. In these cases, the sponsor will be informed that they are to provide a copy of the film for their screening event. Only legally manufactured copies of the film may be provided. A personal copy of the film that has been produced on a DVD recording device cannot be legally exhibited to the public and is thus not acceptable. If the sponsor assumes responsibility for providing a copy of the film for the screening and fails to do so, licensing costs are still incurred by the sponsor.
2. The event sponsor may themselves assume responsibility for licensing the film through the film’s non-theatrical distributor. Contact information for most distributors may be obtained from Stuart Neff in the Student Activities Office (SAC W310). A copy of the distributor’s invoice and a record of payment for the license are required for Student Activities files prior to the screening. All text on these copies must be legible, including the distributor’s contact information.
Distributors may or may not provide a rental copy of the film with the licensing. Sponsors themselves should determine whether or not a copy of the film is to be provided. The event sponsor is solely responsible for providing the distributor’s rented copy or another legally manufactured copy of the film to the Student Activities staff. As above, a copy of the film that has been produced on a DVD recording device is not acceptable.
3. Clearance to publicly exhibit the film is obtained from the copyright holder or their agent. A letter providing clearance is required for our files. Each letter should be under a letterhead, indicating the discoverable titleholder for the film's copyright. Letters should describe the specific circumstances of the screening, including place, date, time, number of screenings allowed, and whether or not an admission charge is permissible. Letters should clearly state that the University of Louisville and its staff and agents, as well as the sponsoring organization, are granted permission to screen the film under the specific circumstances described. Each letter should be signed by the holder of the copyright or their representative and should include the following contact information: email address and office telephone number. As above, event sponsors are solely responsible for providing a legally manufactured copy of the film to the Student Activities staff.
Proof of Licensing or Copyright Clearance Required
The necessary paperwork required by criteria #2 and #3 should be provided to the Student Activities Office (SAC W310) as soon as possible after the screening facility and equipment are booked, and before any public promotion of the screening is released. All paperwork for screening events is kept in the copyright files of the Student Activities Office.
The Student Activities staff will refuse to facilitate any screening that has not met one of these criteria. Should the event sponsor fail to provide a record of licensing or similar clearance for a screening at least 72 hours in advance of the event, the Student Activities Office reserves the right to cancel the booking and the event. Any public notice of a screening that has not yet met one of the preceding criteria shall likewise make the event subject to cancellation. (Such cancellation will not affect any reservation fees or other billable expenses associated with the event.)
Media Formats for Films
The Floyd Theater has the technical capability of screening three different kinds of media formats. Legally manufactured DVD’s can be exhibited, if copyright criteria above are met. Tapes and DVD’s may be provided by the licensing agency, rented from a video rental store, borrowed from a library, or a legally manufactured copy may be provided from a personal collection. DVD’s that are not manufactured by authorized distributors are not legal for public exhibition and will not be used for screenings. Student Activities staff is not responsible for providing a copy of the film for a screening event.
The Floyd Theater is also equipped with 35mm projectors. Arrangements to rent films and license screenings in this format must be made through the Student Activities Board and its advisors. Staffing for these screenings is required and is arranged by the Board’s advisors. 35mm prints provide the best picture and sound for a screening event, but the availability of film titles is extremely limited, and the costs are accordingly higher. SAB’s Film Chairman or the SAB advisors can provide screening event sponsors with more information about what films are available in 35mm. Also see the note on Licensing Availability below.
Costs for Screening Events
Screening licenses for films to be shown by DVD range in cost from $200.00 to $800.00. Licensing for 35mm screenings includes a copy of the film and shipping costs for the print. Costs for this option range from $350.00 to $1000.00. Generally, newer titles are higher in cost, but other factors are involved. Pricing varies widely by distributor and some negotiation is involved. For these reasons, it is generally best to allow the SAB to arrange for licensing. The SAB bills sponsors for licensing based solely on the distributor’s charge.
DVD screenings will also incur a $50.00 fee for use of the Floyd Theater’s data projector, in addition to any other costs associated with the booking. 35mm screenings, which require a trained projectionist, will incur a $150.00 fee, in addition to any other costs associated with the booking. All screening events will thus incur a licensing fee, a technical fee, and any other fees associated with booking the facility.
A Note on Availability of Licensing for Film Titles
Newly-released films are exhibited exclusively in nationally-owned theater chains that have exclusive arrangements with the distributors. Most new films are thus not available to screen at the University. Additionally, licensing for all films is at the discretion of the copyright holder and their distributor. Many titles will not be available for licensing.
Currently, the Student Activities Board is engaged in a boycott of Swank Motion Pictures, which holds the licensing rights for 70 – 80% of films released through major Hollywood studios. For this reason, thousands of mainstream titles will not be booked by SAB. Swank Motion Pictures constitutes a monopoly that uses their position in the film industry to charge outrageous prices for its licensing. Sponsors who wish to license screenings of a Swank title will be required to purchase licensing on their own.
Researching the availability of film titles for licensing involves some knowledge of the film industry and can be complicated. Sponsors who wish to find out if a film can be licensed may contact the SAB Film Committee or its advisors to discover if a particular screening can be legally licensed. Call 852-6691 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.