Legal checklist: Showing films at your pub

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Licence, Film

Showing films can be a great way to boost profits at your business
Showing films can be a great way to boost profits at your business
One way to maximise profits it to provide entertainment at your premises. If you don’t want to go down the route of using live bands, then showing films at your premises is a good alternative, which can appeal to a wide range of customers. Here is a legal checklist for ensuring that your film event is a success.

Deciding which sort of licence you require to show films can be a minefield as different types of licences may be required depending upon the type of film and whether you will charge your customers to view it.

The majority of films are available via the three main distributors: the British Film Institute (BFI), Filmbank and the Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC). The BFI and Filmbank websites feature an online catalogue showing the films available and the licensing team at MPLC can provide information on the films it licences.

Here are top tips for ensuring that your film event is a success:

  • Check your premises licence to ensure that you are able to show films. Basically, a film is anything other than a live broadcast, so even if you are showing a recording of a film or TV programme, your premises licence will need to provide authorisation to show films.
  • Decide whether you are going to charge your customers to watch the film. Filmbank offers a single title screening licence, which authorises the showing of individual films and allows you the discretion to charge your customers to view them. The price of the licence is determined by the number of times you show the film, the capacity of your venue and whether you are charging customers to watch.
  • If you are not going to charge an admission fee to your customers, you may purchase an annual licence, which allows unlimited screenings throughout the year. Filmbank offers a public video screening licence, which authorises you to show unlimited films from any of its distributors to a non-paying audience, although you may only advertise the showing of any films inside your premises. The fee for this type of licence is based on the average weekly footfall of your pub. MPLC also offers an ‘umbrella licence’, which authorises the showing of films where an admission fee is not being charged.
  • If your premises has guest rooms and you offer a service where guests can watch films in their rooms, you also need a licence. Filmbank offers a DVD concierge licence where guests select DVDs at reception and take them to their room, or a hotel vision licence, which allows you to provide pay-per-view films in your guest rooms.
  • If you already play music at your premises, then it is likely that you will already have a Performing Rights Society (PRS) licence and a Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) licence, however it is important to ensure that these are in place if you are showing films as any musical content that may feature in the films needs to be licensed separately. The same applies for a Video Performance Limited (VPL) licence if you show music videos at your premises.

More information on each type of licence can be found at Filmbank​; MPLC​; and BFI​.

Related topics: Licensing law

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