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Movie Public Performance Site License

All Nebraska public libraries are covered by a Public Performance Site License, sometimes referred to as a "blanket license," between the Nebraska Library Commission and Swank Movie Licensing USA, Inc. for public viewing of motion pictures shown inside the library building. With this license, motion pictures may be shown as part of various library services and programming at the library. Note: The Nebraska Library Commission has recently renewed the license for another year.  All public libraries are currently covered through September 30, 2024.

For more information about the license, contact Susan Knisely, Online Services Librarian, 402-471-3849, 800-307-2665, fax: 402-471-2083

Note: The Outdoor COVID-19 Exception, which allowed libraries to submit a request to show an outdoor movie on library property, has ended. Please contact Swank Motion Pictures at 800-876-5577 for standard outdoor license pricing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. If the library owns the videocassettes and DVDs, do we need a license to show them?

Yes, it is necessary for the library to have a license, regardless of who owns the video or DVD. Whether it is part of the library collection, someone's personal collection, or rented from a video business, if the film is covered by the Annual Site License it is legal to show in the library.  (See below for information on how to confirm that a movie is covered by the license.)

Q. We do not charge admission. Do we need a license?

Yes, the Federal Copyright Act states that regardless of whether an admission fee is charged, a license is required. In fact, this license only applies to showings where no admission fee is charged.  You are allowed to provide people the opportunity to give free-will donations, and you may sell food such as popcorn and soda at the event, if you choose.

Q. We would like to show videos to our library cardholders as well as other members of the public? Do we need a license?

Yes, libraries are required to have a public performance license to show videos to library cardholders at the library as well as to other members of the public.

Q. We would like to publicize the performance. What methods are acceptable?

Announcements of video showings in library newsletters, bookmarks, bulletin boards, etc. and on the library's web page where the recipients are likely to be library cardholders and staff are allowable.  In these cases it is permitted to list the title of the motion picture. 

However, use of public media (TV, radio, newspapers, posters outside of the library, or with social media) to advertise specific titles or studios is prohibited.  More information on this is available on Swank's FAQ page. (Click on "How can I use my license to promote a movie event?" in the "After Purchase section.)

 Clarification on promotion via social media: "The title, studio, and artwork should not be used on any social media that is not set to private such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  If the Facebook page is public, then we would suggest alluding to the title and including a link back to the library website for more details." (per email 12/18/2017)

Movie Licensing USA makes it easy to create publicity with customizable posters, bookmarks and movie tickets that are already properly copyrighted. This feature can be found at (Login with your customer number, located on your license certificate, is required.) You can also find vendor paperwork and new programming ideas on Swank's Customer Hub.

Q. Does a Movie Public Performance Site License cover all videocassettes and DVDs?

No, some videos, such as educational and special interest titles, are purchased with public performance rights. Certain videos of motion pictures in the public domain do not require a license.  Some motion picture DVDs or videocassettes are not covered by the license. 

To learn if a particular title is covered by the license, go to: Select the search tool in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and then type in the name of the movie you're hoping to show. If the film shows up, that means the movie is available through Movie Licensing USA.  If the title has the label "Single Event License Required," then you must obtain a separate license in order to stay copyright compliant. If it does not have this label, it is covered by your annual license. If you have questions about a particular title, you can also call 888-267-2658 to speak to a company licensing manager.

Q. If the movie I wish to show is not covered by the Movie Public Performance Site license what can I do?

You may contact Swank Motion Pictures, (800) 876-5577, or another such company, and ask for the cost to show the film one time only.  They will let you know the amount, and you can decide if your library has the funds to pay for a one-time license for that specific title.

Q. We would like to host an outdoor showing of a movie. Is that possible?

Outdoor showings are not typically covered by the public performance site license; please contact Swank's outdoor showings department for outdoor licensing information at 800-876-5577.

Brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission, with funding from the State of Nebraska and the U.S. Museum and Library Services.

For more information, contact Susan Knisely.