Any screening of a film to a group of people requires licensing, whether they are a paying audience or not. It’s a popular misconception that it is perfectly legal to screen films to a non-paying audience, but this is simply not the case. There are clear legal channels for screening any film outside the home.
To screen films to the public outside of a traditional cinema context is called non-theatrical exhibition. Examples include film clubs, schools, bars, hotels, oil-rigs, shops, holiday resorts, care homes and hospitals as well as community groups.
Films screened non-theatrically are usually screened from Blu-ray or DVD, though options to play them from downloadable files are growing.
If you want to put on a film screening, there are two areas of licensing to consider:
- Film copyright licensing – the licence to screen the particular film title(s) you wish to show, required for all screenings outside the home
- Premises licensing – the licence for the activity of screening a film to the public, required ONLY if you aim to generate a profit from tickets being sold
The two permissions are completely separate and the possession of one licence does not provide exemption from any requirements of the other.