Nursing home unknowingly exposed to copyright infringement over movie nights

September 11, 2018 06:51 PM

Movie nights are popular in nursing homes, but could they be illegal? 

One organization sent a local nursing home a letter warning them to pay before they play.

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It came from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation which issues Umbrella Licenses to organizations including; dentists, libraries, schools, and senior living facilities.

"Motion pictures and other audiovisual programs have long been a great way to entertain and educate. But what you might not be aware of is, unless you're viewing them for personal, private use, legal authorization is needed to avoid copyright infringement," states the MPLC website. 

It adds that many organizations unknowingly expose themselves to penalties 'for seemingly innocent purposes.'

Attorney Peter J. Pullano with Tully Rinckey in Rochester looked into the law, explaining a change in an agreement between copyright companies and nursing home facilities. 

"There was a new agreement in 2016 and there was no longer an exemption. Under the new agreement, it looks like all bets are off and they can indeed charge," explained Pullano. He added, "They opted not to enforce and with the change of agreement they are now exercising a right they always had."

To offer protection, the MPLC is trying to education organizations and will provide protection to litigation. 

It explains that under current law, common areas such as lounges, theaters, or community rooms are considered public performances. Because of that, showing movies in those places would require a public performance license.

The MPLC says when you rent or buy a DVD there is an understanding that it is for private use. Even though nursing homes do not charge people to watch the movies, they are paid a fee for the overall services they provide.

Often times they are the primary source of income for smaller production companies.

For more information on the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation and the Umbrella License, click here.


Stephanie Robusto

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