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Showing Films in Congregations

Old style projector with 2 film reels

Planning to Show a Film?

You are legally and ethically required to follow public performance laws.

A movie that you rent or purchase is licensed only for private use in your home. You cannot show it in public without a public performance license. A public showing includes showing it at a children, youth, adult or multigenerational event, even if you do not charge admission.

There are some very narrowly defined “fair use” exceptions to the license requirement, but most congregational film showings do not meet those criteria.

The Motion Picture Association of America offers this statement about public performance law, as well as information on obtaining a public performance license.

The American Library Association offers this helpful statement for educators (PDF), which offers guidance on limited classroom fair use exceptions.

While we hope this information is useful, please remember that Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice.

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UUA Congregational Life Staff Group

The regional Congregational Life staff are congregations' local connection to the UUA. All of the program Congregational Life staff have expertise in most aspects of congregational life and each also has a few program areas of expertise. See the...

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.