Key Takeaways

  • If you show movies at your senior center, the law requires that you have a public performance license. 

  • The good news is that the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) has you covered! As a NISC member, your center is eligible for a discounted Umbrella License® from the MPLC.

  • Not a NISC Member? Join today.

It’s a rainy afternoon, and the wet weather means that your senior center needs an alternative activity.

What about a classic movie matinee? In addition to buttery popcorn and conversation, the event will feature a few silver screen favorites.

By late afternoon, it’s clear that the event has been a great success, and your senior center decides that classic movie matinees should be a monthly activity.

How many times has this kind of scenario occurred at your senior center? Have you ever shown family movies and invited seniors to bring their families? What about cool summer movies that provide seniors with an opportunity to beat the heat? Does your activities coordinator occasionally schedule movie nights? How about a recreation room where patrons and guests can bring in a movie to watch on the big screen?

Protect your senior center

Situations like these are commonplace in senior centers across the country. When watching movies at your senior center, however, have you ever wondered how the FBI Warning at the beginning of the movie applies to you?

According to the U.S. Copyright Act, copyrighted motion pictures and other audiovisual programs that are available for rental or purchase in any legal format, such as DVDs or other digital formats, are intended for personal, private use only. Movie showings in senior centers are considered “public performances” and require a public performance license. Regardless of whether an admission fee is charged, this legal requirement applies equally to for-profit and non-profit facilities, including senior centers.

It does not matter how large or small the audience is or if the movies shown have been purchased, rented, or borrowed. Non-compliance, even inadvertently, can result in fines starting at $750 per showing. Fines for egregious violations are as high as $150,000 per infringement.

Discounted fees for NISC members

Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) grants the license you need to ensure comprehensive copyright compliance at your senior center. For many years, NCOA’s National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) and MPLC have worked together to provide an affordable, easy way for senior centers to show movies while complying with federal copyright law.

Under this agreement, an MPLC Umbrella License costs only:

  • $220 per senior center per year for NISC-accredited senior centers
  • $260 per senior center per year for non-accredited NISC member senior centers
  • $350 per senior center per year for non-NISC members

The MPLC Umbrella License provides the most diverse programming available from over 1,000 producers, ranging from Disney to Warner Bros. In addition to major Hollywood studios, MPLC represents independent, specialty, foreign, documentary, and family friendly producers. The license covers thousands of titles currently available in any legally obtained format.

To date, MPLC has licensed more than 300,000 locations in the U.S. and over 500,000 locations worldwide, from the smallest camps and public libraries to the largest multi-national corporations and federal government agencies.

Apply for a license

If you wish to show movies at your senior center, a public performance license is required. NISC has enjoyed a strong relationship with the MPLC and encourages all members to comply with federal copyright law through the purchase of an MPLC Umbrella License®. You must include this application when contacting MPLC for the NISC discount on movie licenses.