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Undergraduate Student Life

Screening Movies and Television Shows

Policies and Procedures

Commercial films and television shows are protected by copyright law, and may not be shown in any public setting on campus without obtaining a public performance license from the copyright owner. A public setting is defined as any venue on campus outside of an individual student’s dorm room. Even if an event is restricted to a certain group of students, such as members of a particular club, a license must be obtained in order to show a film or television show at that event. These copyright restrictions apply whether or not a fee will be charged for admission to the event.  

Rights for public performance must be secured within 10 days of the scheduled event. Proof of license must be submitted to both the advising and or event management office. Failure to provide the timely submission of proof of license will lead to the cancellation of the space reservation and the subsequent event.  

Student organizations found in violation of the law and Columbia University policies described above will risk de-recognition and could be subject to other penalties.  

Procedure of Screening a Movie in Lerner Hall

Choose Movie & Determine License Owner

There are four principal companies who license films on behalf of the film companies:

  • Film Inc.
  • Frameline, Inc.
  • Swank Motion Pictures 
  • Criterion Motion Pictures 

The web sites for these companies list the films they represent and provide contact information.

If the film or show that you wish to license is not listed on either of these web sites, set forth below is information as to how to clear the rights:  

1. LOOK AT THE PACKAGING BOX THE DVD/VHS MOVIE COMES IN.  

2. FIND THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE. THIS IS USUALLY WRITTEN © [DATE]. Examples: © 1981 or © 2004  

3. LOCATE THE COMPANY NAME THAT APPEARS WITH THE © SYMBOL Example: 20th Century Film Corporation Sony Picture Entertainment MCA, Inc. MGM/United Artists Universal Paramount Pictures Corporation Warner Bros.  

4. GO ON THE INTERNET AND LOCATE THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE COMPANY. THIS INFORMATION IS OFTEN FOUND IN THE “CONTACT US” SECTION OF A WEB SITE.  

5. CALL OR E-MAIL THE COMPANY WITH YOUR REQUEST. WEB SITES [ESPECIALLY CORPORATE WEB SITES] OFTEN HAVE A SECTION WHERE YOU CAN SEND AN E-MAIL. YOU SHOULD PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:  

(A) THE MOVIE YOU WANT TO SHOW. Example: Matrix  

(B) IS YOUR COPY A DVD OR A VHS TAPE? Example: “We are renting a DVD copy of your great movie and showing it on a television monitor.”  

(C) THE PLACE YOU ARE SHOWING YOUR MOVIE. Example: Alfred Lerner Hall Room 477 2920 Broadway New York, NY 10027  

(D) THE DATE YOU ARE SHOWING YOUR MOVIE. Example: December 7, 2005 at 8:00 pm  

(E) THE ANTICIPATED SIZE OF YOUR AUDIENCE. Example: Either the room capacity or the expected attendance.  

(F) WHETHER YOU ARE CHARGING ADMISSION Example: Admission free to our group members.  

(G) THE NAME OF YOUR GROUP Example: The ‘We Like to Show Movies’ Club Activities Board of Columbia-recognized group.  

(H) YOUR NAME and CONTACT INFO  

(I) YOUR ADVISER’S NAME AND CONTACT INFO WITH A FAX # Example: xxxxxxxxxx, Adviser Telephone number: 212-854-XXXX Student Development & Activities 515 Alfred Lerner Hall, MC 2601 2920 Broadway New York, NY 10027 FAX: 212-854-6972  

Example: xxxxxxxx, Adviser Telephone number: 212-854-XXXX Office of Multicultural Affairs 401 Alfred Lerner Hall, MC 2607 2920 Broadway New York, NY 10027 FAX: 212-854-9801  

(7) IF THE COPYRIGHT OWNER GRANTS YOUR REQUEST, IT WILL GENERALLY BE FOR A FEE IN THE RANGE OF $300.00 - $500.00. IF THE COPYRIGHT OWNER DENIES YOUR REQUEST, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SHOW THE FILM IN QUESTION AT THE EVENT.

Undergraduate Student Life

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510-515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-3612

Fax: (212) 854-9801

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