Copyright laws: Rules pubs should be aware of

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Reasonable steps: Pubs should be up to date with copyright laws
Reasonable steps: Pubs should be up to date with copyright laws

Related tags Film

Publicans should be aware of recent changes to copyright law, affecting what can and cannot be publicly screened without charge, and whether they need a Motion Picture Licensing Company license.

Despite the changes to Section 72 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988: Public showing or playing of broadcasts​ coming into force in June 2016, some businesses may not be aware of all the new rules.

Chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), Kate Nicholls, said venues should be aware of the law and the requirement to obtain a licence if they are showing copyrighted material in any part of their venues.

“If they are not showing copyrighted material and are taking reasonable steps to ensure they don’t, then they do not need a licence,” she said.

“There has been some confusion as to which programmes and broadcasts are covered by the umbrella licence."

Below is advice from the ALMR on copyright law for pubs.

Do I need a MPLC licence?

The Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) is a global provider of film and TV show screening rights. It represents more than 850 film studios and TV producers, including 20th Century Fox, BBC Worldwide, Discovery Channel, Granada Media, Dreamworks, Lionsgate, Miramax, Paramount, MGM and Universal Studios.

If you broadcast TV shows and films subject to the MPLC licence, whether broadcast on TV, played from DVDs or viewed from the internet in your venue (including staff common areas), you will need a licence.

Sports, music channels, rolling news

However, MPLC have confirmed to the ALMR that if a venue is only broadcasting sports, rolling news or music channels – whether terrestrial or subscription services – then you do not need a licence.

You should write to them to confirm that this is the only broadcast you are making from your screens and that you have taken all necessary steps to ensure that the TVs are not used for broadcast of any other moving images.

Film or TV drama

A venue will need a MPLC licence if it shows a film or TV drama, whether live or recorded and irrespective of whether the sound is on. For example, if a Star Wars​ or Doctor Who​-themed night has footage running silently in the background, it would still need a MPLC licence.

Where in a venue does the MPLC licence apply?

The licence applies to:

• All public/customer areas during operating hours

• TVs in staff rooms or rest rooms

The licence does NOT apply:

• In manager’s accommodation

• If the staff have a TV on when they are setting up


Should you decide that a venue requires a MPLC licence, you will need to apply for the appropriate tariff. There are three categories:

• pubs and bars

• hotels (though not applicable to guests’ rooms)

• restaurants and cafes

Tariffs and application forms for the three categories can be found on the ALMR's MPLC resources page.

ALMR members should contact the ALMR if they are unsure and other venues should scrutinise the MPLC website.

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