Public performances of movies can occur on campus, however, the rights to the movie/show must be purchased in order to show it to a public group. If you own a movie, it is not okay to show it to a large group because that movie was purchased for personal viewing. This information will help you avoid putting OWU at risk of legal matters.

Copyright law states neither the rental or purchase of a video cassette or DVD carries with it the rights to exhibit such a movie outside the home, unless the site where the video is used is properly licensed for copyright complaint exhibition. Only the movie studio who owns the copyright and their agents are the only two parties are authorized to license sites such as colleges or universities.

What is considered “public performance of a movie”?

“A place open to the public or any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family or its social acquaintances are gathered.”

You may show a movie publicly if:
  • The Film is in the Public Domain
  • You have written permission from the film’s producer or other holder of the right to grant such permission.
  • The film is obtained from a company that provides a Public Performing License with the purchase of the film.
  • You purchase the Public Performing rights to show the film. Please be aware, purchasing the public performance rights to a movie can add hundreds of dollars to the total cost.
Where to begin?

Know the details of you're showing: Licenses for viewing are specific to a time frame. Contact the AV department about the showing of your movie:

Know what you can not do
  • Rent a movie from any video store/source (Netflix, Redbox, iTunes, etc.) and show it to a group.
  • Purchase a copy of a movie and show it to a group.
  • Check out a movie from OWU’s Library and show it to a group UNLESS you have verified with a staff member that OWU has purchased the public performance rights for that film.
  • Use “The Educational Fair Use Exemption” UNLESS content of the film is linked to material taught in a class and only attended by members enrolled in the class.
Some tips:
  • Contact the Strand Theater to find out if you can partner to legally show a movie. Again, give them plenty of time to get the movie. Note: Your group will still be responsible for the cost of performance rights.
  • Find out who makes the movie and who owns the rights most likely Swank Motion Pictures, visit
  • Planning is imperative to ensure that the proper rights are secured for a film before any publicity is created and posted surrounding the showing of one.

Contact Info


Student Involvement Office
Hamilton-Williams Campus Center #143
Delaware, Ohio 43015
P 740-368-3185
F 740-368-3199

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M-F 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.