Commercial cinemas generally use 35mm film prints and digital content supplied by licensed film distributors. These are the cinemas typically seen in the daily papers such as Hoyts, Greater Union, Event, Village, Reading, Wallis and various other independent operators and groups. The distributors get their rights from the owners of the copyright in the movie. Often however, people want to show movies outside the context of commercial cinemas.
The information contained in this document is intended to provide guidelines for the public performance of motion pictures in venues other than recognised commercial cinemas, as well as providing related information such as censorship, the use of clips, and other issues in an attempt to address the numerous FAQs that are raised with us.

Table of contents:
 Who is Roadshow Public Performance Licensing?
 Australia’s international responsibilities
 Copyright
 Public exhibition
 What constitutes a screening in public?
 Public performance as applied to educational institutions
 Religious and charitable groups
 Blanket licensing
 Public performance and the role of rental stores
 Privately owned & purchased material
 Application of Act in its relationship to copyright warnings on DVDs
 Penalties for copyright infringement
 Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft
 Availability of material for public performance
- Fees applicable for public performance
- Advertising restrictions for public performances
 Collection societies/agencies as applied to public exhibition of film, videos & DVDs
- Australasian Performing Rights Association Ltd (APRA)
- National film and video lending service of Australia
- SBA Music
- Screenrights
- ScreenSound Australia
 Clip licensing
 Censorship

Who is Roadshow Public Performance Licensing?

Roadshow Public Performance Licensing (a division of the Village Roadshow entertainment group) is a commercial distributor of motion picture film, videos & DVDs, operating under licence, representing various film studios including Warner Bros, Buena Vista International (incl. Walt Disney), Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, MGM, United Artists, 20th Century Fox, Hoyts Distribution, Hopscotch Films, and numerous other Australian and overseas producers and distributors.
Roadshow specialises in the area of “non-theatrical” (an industry term that refers to venues not primarily engaged in the commercial showing of film, video and DVD) and public performance. For a fee, it will supply licensees with copies of the DVD for public exhibition, or permit the applicant to show their own copy of the film (for example where they already own the DVD).
As the commercial representative of so many studios & producers, Roadshow is likely to be the authority to grant licences and provide information. Other groups, many of which are also listed in this document, may have limitations on what they can provide and/or authorise.
Roadshow’s general list of clients would include pubs, clubs, aircraft, trains, hotels & motels, schools, libraries, churches, Australian military bases, buses, prisons, hospitals, mining camps, oil rigs, ships, film societies and numerous other non-specific yet ultimately “public” venues.

Australia’s international responsibilities

Australia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and is a signatory to various international agreements whereby the copyright interests of each signatory country are protected by each other signatory countries. Because of the breadth of these international agreements, Australia protects the films of most overseas countries and most overseas countries protect Australian films.

Copyright Act

Copyright law in Australia is contained in the Copyright Act 1968 (The “Act”). The Act provides details of those materials protected under the Act, including the moving images and sounds in a motion picture.

Public exhibition

Owners of copyright have exclusive rights to do certain things with their material, including copying, showing, and playing in public. To screen a motion picture in public irrespective of the format (eg. 35mm or 16mm; DVD/Blu-ray, video-cassette; laser disc; or any form of electronic transmitting device), you generally need permission from:
 the owner of copyright in the moving images and sound
 the owner of copyright in the music on the soundtrack
This applies whether you are showing the whole of the movie or just part of it.
Generally, the major film distribution companies chose to assign their non-theatrical/public performance rights through industry specialists in the field, providing general guidelines for the exploitation of their film, whilst retaining the right to make any final determination on whether a particular exhibition is permitted.

What constitutes a screening in public?

For the purposes of copyright, a screening of a film outside the home is generally regarded as “in public”. This extends to screenings in pubs, clubs, hotels/motels, restaurants/cafes, nightclubs, shopping centres, factories, buses/coaches, trains, ferries, and numerous other similar institutions and organisations. Even if the exhibition is not for profit (such as exhibitions in church), permission from the copyright holder is still required. No matter how good the cause, it can never be assumed that permission will be granted, as each decision is at the sole discretion of the copyright owner or its licensed representative.

Public performance as applied to educational institutions

Under the Act it is not illegal for films to be shown in class, or otherwise in the presence of an audience, provided that it is shown either:
 by a teacher in the course of giving education instruction (provided the instruction is not ‘for profit’), or
 by a student in the course of receiving such instruction
Commercial (‘for-profit’) education providers don’t have the benefit of this statutory exemption. When these organisations want to organise the public exhibition of a movie they must obtain copyright permission.
Even where the educational institution is ‘non-profit’, the statutory exception only applies to exhibition ‘in the course of giving educational instructions.’ For example, it does not apply to films that are used in the classroom for entertainment purposes (e.g. rained out sports days, before and after school care, school camps, etc.) and normal permission must be sought and any applicable fees must be paid. Similarly, in boarding schools where any film is shown for entertainment in a group situation (or piped to individual rooms via any closed circuit system), permission would be required.
Being able to get possession of the movie – whether by renting or buying it, does not constitute approval (refer to next section). Rental stores do not have the right to grant Public Exhibition rights. They are only licensed to supply movies for home, non-public use. If you do not fit within the strict terms of the Copyright Act you must obtain a public performance licence from the copyright owner.
Expert opinion on copyright obligations and guidelines for education can be obtained from

Religious and Charitable groups

Churches and charities have no exemption from seeking authorisation and the payment of fees. Depending on the screening, churches may be able to get either a blanket or one-off licence.

Blanket licensing

Blanket licensing is a scheme whereby suitable clients are able to pay an annual fee for the right to show films as often as they like under certain conditions. Presently this scheme is restricted to schools, caravan/camping sites and churches, and a relatively modest fee is applicable, assessed depending on the size of the total group. Screenings are to be contained within the group and no members of the general public nor any public advertising is permitted.

Public performance and the role of rental stores

A rental store is not authorised to permit or license a film for public performance.
Although it may be a source for the physical supply of a video or DVD/Blu-ray, notwithstanding any fee paid to the video rental store, you must get permission from, and pay additional fees for, the public exhibition rights. That permission may not be given or the fee may be unacceptable to you. Accordingly, apply early so that you have the opportunity to select alternative movies.

Privately owned and purchased media

The purchase of film media (e.g. 16mm, VHS, DVD, Blu-ray etc) does not give you the right to show or use it however you want. It gives you ownership of the physical item but does not give you ownership of any of the copyright in it.
The Copyright Act does give the owner of a videotape (not other media) the right:
 to make one copy of the film in digital form for private and domestic use
 to lend the copy of the videotape to a member of their family or household for that person’s private and domestic use
Any other activity such as public exhibition or further duplication would be a breach of copyright unless permission is sought and given by the copyright owner.

Application of Act in its relationship to copyright warnings

Most videos and DVDs carry warnings related to unauthorised public performance and duplication. Such warnings may vary from one distributor to another however the message is essentially the same: unless the Copyright Act gives you the benefit of a specific exception, showing the movie in any venue other than the home, or for any purpose that is not private and domestic, requires approval from the copyright owner or its licensed representative.

Penalties for copyright infringements

An infringement for unauthorised public performance can involve:
 person or persons who screen the film publicly
 person or persons who authorise the performance but do not have such rights
 person or persons who provide premises for unauthorised performance
A copyright owner whose rights are infringed may seek orders from a court, including financial compensation. An infringement for commercial purposes is a criminal offence. Those who infringe may be subject to prosecution and are liable to considerable penalties. For example, Federal Court proceedings may result in a claim for unlimited costs and damages and, under certain circumstances, a criminal conviction penalty of $302,500 for a company or $60,500 and/or 5 years imprisonment for an individual.

Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT)

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) represents the majority of theatrical, non-theatrical and audio-visual licensees in Australia, to assist in the protection of their copyright and trademarks. AFACT is associated with the Motion Pictures Association of America whose members include the following film studios:
 Walt Disney
 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc
 Paramount Pictures Corporation
 Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc
 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
 Universal City Studios LLLP
 Warner Bros Entertainment Inc
Village Roadshow is currently a member of AFACT.

This "protection of intellectual property rights" normally starts with the receipt of information concerning film piracy or other illegal activities such as unauthorised public performances. The information is analysed and if necessary, investigations will be initiated to confirm the allegations. The type and volume of any proven illegal activity is then taken into account when deciding whether to issue a formal warning, refer for civil litigation, or provide evidence to police for criminal proceedings.
AFACT works closely with industry, government, police and educational institutions to address copyright theft, and protect the interests of the film and television industry as well as the interests of Australian movie fans.
In 2009, State and Federal Police conducted 69 raids involving movie piracy and seized 194,233 pirated DVDs. They also seized 749 burners capable of producing over 18 million pirated DVDs a year with a potential street value of over $94 million.
On 24 November 2009 in Sydney, AFACT and Crime Stoppers hosted an event to destroy an estimated 780,000 pirated DVD movies, the result of NSW Police, Victoria Police and Federal Police operations to counter movie piracy. Also attending the destruction ceremony were local DVD store owners and Australian actors Susie Porter (East West 101, The Jesters) and Roy Billing (Underbelly, Charlie and Boots).
Australia’s copyright industries are the 3rd largest contributors as a percentage of GDP in the world, second only to the US and UK. In 2006/07 they contributed 10.3% GDP to Australia’s economy [up 66% since 1996], represented 8% of our employment, and generated 4.1% of total exports.
The film and TV industry in Australia alone contributed $4.4 billion to GDP and supports 50,000 jobs, including small businesses under threat from movie and TV piracy, and independent cinemas, rental stores and film and television producers across the country.
In 2007, the film and TV sector contributed an estimated $1.8 billion in tax to the Australian Government.
AFACT is a respected expert in the field of copyright, trademarks and film piracy, as it specifically relates to Australia and other territories in our region. They can be contacted via:
 Free call: 1800 251 996
 Email:
 Website:

Availability of material for public performance

The availability of copyright material in any environment is generally at the discretion of the copyright owner, having taken into account any and all commercial interests related to the distribution of the material to its various revenue generating markets. This may mean that a film that is available to one market at a particular time may not necessarily be available to another market until a later time. The release of a film is generally staggered through its various markets through the use of “release windows”, thus allowing the copyright holder to effectively market and maximise revenue from cinema, home-entertainment, pay/free-to-air TV, and other mediums. Non-theatrical & public performances are similarly structured according to the wishes of the copyright owner.
It cannot simply be assumed that because a film is generally available (ie film prints, DVDs, Blu-Rays and other such devices) that permission for a public performance will be granted. The final decision on any application is at the complete discretion of the owner or its representative.

Fees applicable for public performance

A fee will be determined after assessing the individual merits of each case, taking into account factors such as venue, expected audience numbers, the calibre of film, and other non-specific items such as any minimum requirements that may be expected by the copyright owner. In certain circumstances, a percentage of the gross takings may be considered appropriate.
Note: Fees paid to Roadshow or other distributors do not include any fees that may be due to APRA for the exploitation of the musical works contained in the soundtrack associated with the exhibition of the film. Separate fees would need to be negotiated with APRA (see separate reference to APRA below).

Advertising restrictions for public performances

Generally, non-theatrical engagements are restricted to “closed” screenings, meaning groups or gatherings that do not openly admit members of the general public. Advertising is to be limited to the members of the group and/or within the venue in which the screening will take place, and should not be published in such a manner that would indicate that the screening is open to persons outside the group. Advertising of a more general nature would require the permission of the copyright owner or representative.

Collection societies/agencies relevant to public exhibition

 Australasian Performing Rights Association Ltd (APRA)
APRA provides permission to communicate, broadcast or perform musical works in public. Such permission extends to the musical works (only) contained on the soundtrack of a film or video. APRA collects fees for such authorisation, on behalf of its members, who include composers, songwriters,music publishers, and other music copyright owners. APRA has offices in most capital cities. Visit their website or ring 1800 882 772.
Note: Payments to APRA relate only to the musical works contained in the soundtrack, and do not imply that rights are also granted to show the film in public, such rights still being required to be sought separately from the copyright owner or representative.

 National Film and Video Lending Service of Australia (NFVLS)
The collection of 16mm films, videos, laser discs and DVDs is managed by ScreenSound Australia in Canberra, and distributed to registered borrowers throughout Australia. Borrowers are restricted to non-profit organisations, film societies, cultural groups, educational and government bodies, libraries, museums and galleries. ScreenSound may provide materials to groups outside these guidelines provided the user has appropriate authorisation from the copyright owner, but ScreenSound is not obligated to provide such materials. NFVLS’s phone number is 1800 012 175, or you can email them at

 SBA Music
SBA Music specialise in the provision of music content (audio and video) and sports footage (bloopers and extreme). SBA are licensed to supply their products to businesses such as hotels, clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, and others. SBA Music holds the required dubbing licenses from the owners of the copyrights (ARIA) and the publishing houses (AMCOS) to reproduce music. SBA Music’s phone numbers are (02) 9660 8999 and 1800 025 687, or you can visit their website

 Screenrights
Screenrights is a collecting society for owners of copyright in audio-visual works, undertaking rights management for film and television producers, agents, screenwriters, music interests, and other copyright owners. It collects royalties from educational institutions and government bodies (local, state, federal) for the copying of television and radio programs, distributing these royalties to relevant copyright owners in Australia and overseas. This arrangement does not extend to the copying of pre-recorded cassettes or DVDs. Such action would be considered an infringement of copyright unless proper permission is obtained from the copyright owner. Screenrights can be contacted on (02) 9904 0133, or you can visit their website at

 ScreenSound Australia
ScreenSound Australia is the National Film and Sound Archive, and is a signatory to FIFA (the International Federation of Archives). Their primary role is to collect and preserve films (regardless of format) but do not license them for lending. From July 2004 they are also acting on behalf of the National Film and Video Lending Service (NFVLS). ScreenSound’s phone number is 1800 067 274 and you can visit their website at

Clip licensing

The use of film clips for any purpose requires permission from the copyright owner, regardless of whether it’s an advertisement for the individual film product (e.g. TV commercial, cinema trailer, etc), or the use of library footage for some unrelated product or purpose. In this latter case, such requests are generally required to be made direct to the major studios or producers as local representatives may not have the right to grant such authority under their distribution agreements (for example, the selection of a scene featuring an image to promote an unrelated product such as a motor car or drink etc, or footage to be used in events, award programs or for inclusion in a film, television or stage production).

Major studio clip licensing divisions are listed below:

 Julie Heath – Director, Warner Bros Clip & Still Licensing 4000 Warner Blvd, Building 11 Burbank, CA 91522 USA
Tel: 1 818 954 1853 Fax: 1 818 954 3817 E-mail:

 Universal Studios Media Licensing
100 Universal City Plaza, 1440/15
Universal City, CA 91608 USA
Tel: 1 818 777 6600
Fax: 1 818 866 2399

 Andy Bandit, Deborah Marriott, Trinh Dang – Fox Clip Licensing Department Building 2121, 13th Floor
Beverly Hills, CA, 90213 USA
Tel: 1 310 369 4001
Fax: 1 310 369 4647
Information Line 0011 1 310 369 3605

 Larry McCallister – Senior Director, Licensing
Paramount Film Clip Licensing
5555 Melrose Ave
Marathon Building/Room 4200
Los Angeles, CA 90038 USA
Tel: 1 323 956 5184
Fax: 1 323 862 2231

 Rebecca Herrera-Burch – Executive Director of Clip and Still Licensing
10250 Constellation Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90067 USA
Tel: 1 310 449 3572
Fax : 1 310 449 3277

 Margarita Harder – Director of Film Clip Licensing
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Plaza, Suite 1016
10202 West Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232 USA
Tel : 1 310 244 7306
Fax : 1 310 244 1336

 Jenny Wong – Director
Business & Legal Affairs
BVI & BVHE Asia Pacific
Tel: 1 852 2203 2102
Fax: 1 852 2203 1023 E-mail


All films to be shown in public are required to be submitted for censorship classification. Full details of Australian censorship standards can be found on the Office of Film & Literature Classification Board website – – however basic information on each category is detailed below.
It is the responsibility of the exhibitor to make any persons viewing a film aware of the censorship rating of the film and to carry out the necessary restrictions to access the film that may apply to MA & R rated categories.



Suitable for all viewers.
The G classification symbol does not necessarily indicate that the film is one that children will enjoy. Some G films contain themes or story-lines that are of no interest to children. Parents should feel confident that children can watch material in this classification without supervision. Material classified G will not be harmful or disturbing to children. Whether or not the film is intended for children, the treatment of themes and other classifiable elements will be careful and discreet.


Parental guidance recommended.
The PG classification signals to parents that material in this category contains depictions or references which could be confusing or upsetting to children without adult guidance. Material classified PG will not be harmful or disturbing to children. Parents may choose to preview the material for their children, some may choose to watch the material with their children. Others might find it sufficient to be accessible during or after the viewing to discuss the content.


Recommended for mature audiences.
The Mature category is advisory and not legally restricted. However, material in this category cannot be recommended for those under 15 years. Films classified M contain material that is considered to be potentially harmful or disturbing to those under 15 years. Depictions and references to classifiable elements may contain detail. However, the impact will not be so strong as to require restriction.

MA 15+

Not suitable for people under 15.
Under 15s must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. The MA category is legally restricted. Children under fifteen will not be allowed to see MA films in the cinema or hire them on video unless in the company of a parent or adult guardian. Material classified MA deal with issues or contains depictions that require a mature perspective. This is because the impact of individual elements or a combination of elements is considered likely to be harmful or disturbing to viewers under 15 years of age.

R 18+

Restricted to 18 and over.
The R category is legally restricted to adults. Material that is given a restricted classification is unsuitable for those under 18 years of age. Material classified R deals with issues or contains depictions which require an adult perspective. The classification is not intended as a comment on the quality of the material. Some material may be offensive to some sections of the adult community. Material that promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime and/or violence is not permitted.