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Understanding Copyright Compliance and Its Importance Within Your Community


Among the many activities offered to residents in senior living communities, showing movies ranks as a very popular one. Residents and staff may not realize that something as simple as showing a movie requires a license. “It’s just for residents,” some might say. “We’re not charging admission.” It seems straight forward, but have you ever considered how copyright law applies when movies are shown within your community?

Some staff and residents are unaware that copyright law, which protects intellectual property and creative works, mandates a license to publicly perform movies, TV programs, and other audiovisual content originally intended for personal, private use only. That’s what the FBI warning at the beginning of a movie is saying – it’s the warning we all too often skip through! Movies shown within communal areas on the property require a public performance license to comply with Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Act.

You may already hear residents asking, “What…we can’t watch a movie?” Of course they can! However, exhibitions in communal areas such as a community room, theater, or lounge, as well as via closed circuit transmission, are by law considered “public” and require a public performance license. The goal of the license is not to prohibit movies, but rather to ensure copyright compliance. License fees ensure that small, independent producers are able to continue making the quality films and documentaries that residents enjoy watching as a community.

To make licensing simple and affordable, Argentum and all other leading industry associations negotiated an agreement with MPLC for member savings on MPLC’s Umbrella License®, the most comprehensive copyright license available for senior living and health care communities. The license provides unprecedented access to content from nearly 750 rightsholders, ranging from major Hollywood and independent studios to faith-based and foreign language producers.

Once licensed, an unlimited number of movies may be shown. Movies can be secured from any legal source whether rented, purchased, or borrowed via DVD, stream, or download. However, unlicensed exhibitions may subject your community to substantial fines for copyright infringement. If your community currently shows movies, please secure the required license to ensure copyright compliance.

As Argentum has advised in the past, the 2016 Agreement establishes guidelines for the licensing of public exhibitions of audiovisual content in all senior living and health care communities. The Agreement states that:

  • All communities, regardless of their type or license status, must obtain licensure for exhibitions transmitted over a closed circuit television system or in-house channel.
  • All communities, regardless of their type or license status, must obtain licensure for exhibitions in common areas such as a theater, lounge, or community room. This includes:
    • Affordable housing facilities and units
    • Assisted living, nursing, and rehabilitation facilities and units
    • Independent living facilities and units
    • Adult day services centers
  • Assisted living, nursing, and rehabilitation units receive a reduced rate on the license. Minimum fees are waived for campuses that are strictly nursing, assisted living, or rehabilitation.
  • Affordable housing units receive a reduced rate on the license.
  • Members of Argentum receive a 10% discount on Umbrella License fees.

Please contact MPLC directly at (800) 462-8855 or online at for assistance with pricing or to ask any questions about the Umbrella License. Please feel free to contact Argentum at (703) 894-1805 with any questions about motion picture licensing requirements within our industry.