Skip to content

LNACC Library Guide:Public Performance Rights

This guide will help the students served by the LNACC navigate the library.

What are Public Performance Rights?

According to the copyright laws set forth in  Title 17 of the U.S. Code:

“Publication” is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.

To perform or display a work “publicly” means— 

(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or

(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

Showing a film to your friends or family in your home legal and showing a film in a face-to-face class is covered under Fair Use. However, showing a film to a group or organization outside the structure of a class may require public performance rights.

How do I acquire Public Performance Rights?

Public Performance Rights (PPR) ultimately rest with the copyright holder - often the film's production company. Many Hollywood production companies use Swank Motion Pictures, Inc or other distribution companies to manage PPR. Additionally, PPR is included in many, but not all, of the subscriptions the University of Iowa Libraries buys through streaming video vendors.

  • Use the list on this page to find out if PPR is already included in our streaming subscription.
  • While the UIowa Libraries cannot pay for public performance rights, we may be able to help you find out who owns the PPR. Contact the Liaison Librarian for your academic department or another UI librarian for help.

Subscribed Streaming Services with PPR

The UIowa Libraries licenses streaming video on a variety of platforms.

The following platforms include PPR:

Alexander Street Press

Ambrose Digital

Docuseek2 (on campus only)

Films Media Group

Kanopy (video's page will indicate if PPR is available)

When Do I Need PPR?

Situations that require Public Performance Rights include:

  • events open to the public, including seminars and colloquia
  • events occurring in public (i.e., non-classroom) space
  • student club events

Note that showings cannot charge admission for attendance.

Documentaries on Netflix

The streaming video service Netflix will occasionally make notable documentaries available free of charge, as "one-time educational screenings." To see a list of these titles you can search the Netflix site or use the provided link. Please read carefully the conditions for screening one of these titles.