We run a community cinema out of our community hall, and have done so now for the past two years with great success, funded by the National Lottery and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust. We show films, on average, twice a month. We have a PVSL licence and a CCLI licence, and all films are covered under one or other of these for public viewing of shop-bought DVDs and Blu-Rays. We put in our first year’s list of movies for the PVSL licence last April, and all was well. I wonder why you said “You cannot show DVDs released for home-viewing in your community centre” (24 March)?
I HAVE reviewed my source of information, and, of course, it is possible to obtain the right licences and so be able to show films in your premises. You must not, however, do so without a licence. My source is Managing your Community Building, by Peter Hudson (Community Matters, 2000). Do you have a local-authority licence for showing films? An appropriate licence may be obtained from your local district or borough council, with a fee chargeable for a one-year licence.
For up to six days of film per year, a simpler “permission” is required. Additional conditions will apply to do with films with children in attendance. Home videos and DVDs include permission for showing on a television at home, and cannot be hired for use in a community centre, as the regulations do not cover making the film available to the public.
In Managing Your Community Building, Hudson says: “‘Domestic’ does not even extend to a private members club, whether or not there is a charge for admission” — even for charitable purposes.
Check the full legal considerations on licensing of premises and the actual film, copyright, and other special conditions. Your local authority could be a good starting point, because it issues its particular licence.
In summary, you may not need a licence if you do all of the following:
- do not charge or make a gain from the event;
- the show is private and there is not a private gain;
- the premises are not used for more than six film shows per year. But you should give seven days’ notice in writing to the local authority, the fire services and police;
- you have a Home Office exemption certificate;
- you are film society that allows only its members to attend performances.
Given all that, I have leaned heavily on Hudson’s book for guidance. I know that the older laws for cinemas and film-shows were exceptionally difficult, because of the fire-risks, people being seated in the dark, and so on.
I am sure that some readers know more, and will probably contact me; I am interested in a reliable source of advice on how to get set up for film shows, safely and legally.
Send your information, issues, and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.