Student Orgs

Film Viewings for Student Organizations & Non-Academic Departments

If you or your student organization wishes to show any films publicly, you must pay for the rights to do so.

What is considered a film?

Movies, documentaries, and television shows.

What is considered public?

  • Any space that does not have restricted access.
  • Any viewing that is promoted to the public (i.e. advertisements have been put up around campus, on social media, and/or off-campus, the viewing has been promoted via word of mouth, etc).
  • Any event that is not restricted to those registered for a specific course where the film is related to the course content.
  • In the residence halls, any space that is not your personal room (i.e. lobbies, hallways, lounges, etc.).

What if the film is available at the library?

  • Even if the film is available in the library, you still need to purchase rights to show the film publicly. Contact Mark Kump ( for information on the limited films that the library has purchased rights to show publicly.
  • If you are privately viewing a film from the library in your room with friends, you do not need to purchase the rights.
  • If an instructor is showing a film from the library to students registered for a specific course where content is related to the course, the rights do not need to be purchased. Showing a film at an organization meeting does not constitute a course with registered students.

What if I have a Netflix, Hulu, or similar subscription?

These platforms are intended for personal use not commercial use; therefore, your subscription does not grant you the necessary rights to show a film publicly.

If I’m a CF, can I view a film with my residents in my room without purchasing the rights?

There’s no easy answer to this. If you are watching the film in your room and you have not publicized it in any way (print, virtual, or otherwise), you do not need to purchase the rights. However, if you watch a film in your room that you have publicized in any way (even word of mouth), you must purchase the rights.

What else do I need to know?

  • Charging admission does not impact whether or not you have to purchase rights to show the film publicly.
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT legal to publicly show a film without purchasing the rights even if:
    • There is a discussion by a faculty member afterwards
    • You don’t advertise
    • You don’t say the name of the film

Err on the Side of Caution!

If it’s copyrighted material, you need to pay for the rights to show it publicly.

I understand everything above and want to show a film publicly.

There are a few ways to go about acquiring the rights to a film.

  • You can partner with the Campus Activities Board Films executive. Most new releases cost about $550-800 to bring to campus and older films typically cost $250-300.
  • Contact SWANK Motion picture licensing ( or Criterion Pictures to license it directly.
  • For documentaries, contact the filmmaker or visit their website directly for information specific to the film.