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Copyright Laws: 6 Myths on Showing Films at Church and Youth Events

5. I can hang up a sheet and use a PA system and projector to show the movie in the church yard. After all, thats on church property.

The CVLI specifically says you can screen movies in its facilities. I asked a CVLI rep to clarify “in facilities.” The answer? You’d most likely be within the spirit of the agreement if you screen the movie outdoors only if the area is secluded. No chance can exist of the general public seeing or hearing any portion of the movie.

6. Because I’m not charging a fee, showing the movie inside my church, and have the CVLI, I can advertise the event in any way.

In case you missed reading point 4 of the CVLI terms, “No specific titles, or any characters from such titles, or producers’ names will be advertised or publicized to the general public unless authorized by certain producers.”

Church Movie License: Next Steps

  • Make sure your church has a current CVLI.
  • Determine if your CVLI covers a particular movie. Obtain the proper license for films that aren’t covered.
  • The license restricts showings to a physical location. So show movies only at church youth ministry events or at a camp location that has its own license.
  • Invite a few students to your house. There you can show a movie inside without any advertising of any sort through the church.

It’s possible to still do a movie event for the public. You’ll need to procure a license from mplc.org, but follow their guidelines.

I hope this clears up some church movie license and copyright confusion. I’m a youth pastor, not a copyright lawyer. So I’m not giving out any legal advice, just a few tips and pointers.

If you have questions, chat with your church’s attorney. Or contact an lawyer who specializes in copyright laws. This is a very in-depth subject, which you noticed if you checked out copyright.gov.