We have heard through ACRE that some village halls have received letters from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) regarding an Umbrella Licence for the showing of audio-visual content. If your hall has received such a letter you may find the following information helpful.

The umbrella license that the letter from MPLC mentions is applicable to venues that play any video content in the ‘background’, to entertain customers or guests, or as educational or training aids. Content such as video, DVD, Bluray or streamed content from services such as Netflix is covered by the licence, but NOT television broadcasts which are of covered by the TV license.

The Umbrella License only covers such content if there is no admission charge, if the video content being shown is not advertised externally and if the video content is incidental or in support of the main activity. They provide a similar function regarding video content as PRS / PPL licenses do for music.

Some halls may find that they require such a licence if for example an instructional DVD is used in an aerobics class, or if the hall is in the habit of putting a film on in the background during a coffee morning. Film clubs and cinema nights would not be covered by this type of umbrella license as they tend to be advertised and there may be an admission fee. In such cases the event organiser (not necessarily the venue) would need to arrange a license for each specific film on each specific date. This license might be acquired from MPLC or from FilmBank or direct from the distributor, depending on which company holds the rights to it.

Halls should carefully consider their circumstances before acquiring the Umbrella license to make sure they actually require it and it is the most appropriate licence for their circumstance. More information on licencing is available in the ACRE information sheets. There is also a really useful set of resources about licensing on the Independent Cinema Office website including a handy guide to which company licenses films by which distributors.

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